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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Weekend Unthreaded

Study shows skeptics know more about climate science than believers

UPDATE Dan Kahan has replied in Comment #54.

So much for the theory that skeptics are dumb or uninformed.  Fox News reports that a new study shows that when people are quizzed about climate science, the skeptics outscored the believers.

Dan Kahan at Yale did the study on 2,000 people, but with only nine questions, so there is limited insight here, but it fits with his previous study which found people who knew more about maths and science were more likely to be skeptical.  Readers of skeptical blogs (who chose to respond to surveys and list their qualifications in comments) are likely to have hard science degrees. The world is slowly waking up to the fact that the skeptics are more knowledgeable about science.

In a proper science quiz, the gap would probably be even larger. On two of the nine questions, skeptics got the science right.  But believers “outscored” skeptics at repeating the propaganda (which shouldn’t be a question in a survey about scientific knowledge). I’d like to see all nine questions (can anyone find a preprint or the paper?)

Skeptics get science right:

One question, for instance, asked if scientists believe that warming would [...]

Heatwaves in Australia: in many ways they are not hotter, longer or more common. Why won’t BOM and ABC say that too?

Heatwaves are a wonderful headline generator. That’s because the term sounds scary, yet the “wave” itself is undefined. A hundred different types of heatwave are theoretically possible, but they all sound the same in a headline. It means an activist team could pick and choose the particular one that scores a “record”. Heatwaves can be 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 days. They can be measured by town, city, state or national data and they are can be above 35, 37, 40 degrees or… pick a number. A heatwave can be measured as days above some percentile of average. That means a few warm days in a cold town can be defined as a heatwave.

Geoff Sherrington, drawing no dollars from the taxpayer, takes a simple and obvious approach, and looks at 5 capital cities with the BOM raw and adjusted ACORN data. He considered 4, 5, and 6 day heatwaves to see if there was a trend. With 5 cites, 2 data types, 3 lengths of heatwave, Sherrington created 30 graphs. After testing all those different combinations of heatwaves, there were only three graphs out of 30 that showed an increasing trend. Over half of the heatwave graphs showed [...]

A bonfire of waste: $100 billion burnt by big-government renewables mismanagement

Renewables, are not just inefficient, unnecessary, and deadly to wildlife, but they were also a disaster of planning and management. The list of dollars and euros destroyed in the Glorious Renewables Quest has gone “nuclear”. The World Economic Forum estimates $100 billion Euro has been wasted, but its even worse than it looks. I had to read their opening sentence twice. I thought it read “European countries could have saved approximately $100 billion if each country had invested in the most efficient energy source.” I was thinking they could have saved that sort of money by using coal instead of windmills… but no, those huge savings would be over and above those ones. The WEF is talking about money saved if “badly managed renewables, had been “well managed ones”.

The inefficiency here is the scale only big-government could achieve.

The Energy Collective

Europe Loses Billions in Badly Sited Renewable Power Plants

European countries could have saved approximately $100 billion if each country had invested in the most efficient capacity given their renewable energy resources, that is, by installing wind turbines in windier countries and solar power plants in sunnier places.

But why would we be surprised? [...]

Disaster. Australian cyclone season is quiet! We have to stop that!

Get ready:

“Australia records its third quietest start to the cyclone season in 50 years.” ABC news, Jack Kerr

Bravo, I thought. ABC covers a good-weather story… but no, lo, for the climate oracles tell us this is ominous and bigger nastier storms are coming. Be afraid!

This weather is weird?

There have only been four occasions since the mid-1960s when cyclones haven’t crossed the mainland before February.

Only four. Golly! This year is almost as “bad”as the worst of the prehistoric era, i.e. ’68, ’80, ’88).

It’s not like the good ol’ days  — when people used to get decent cyclones all the time:

Back in 1870, when Cairns started life as a gold port, four to five severe cyclones would hit the Queensland east coast every decade. By 2010, that average was down to less than two.

Lucky them.

To see the effect of man-made global warming, look hard at this graph below.  Spot the… trend.

A high bar means a long slow quiet start to the cyclone season.

At the start in 1964 CO2 was a wonderful 320ppm. Now it is at 400ppm and obviously (when seen through a computer [...]

Hubert Lamb “father of British climatology”– a skeptic worried about distorting fashions in science

Bernie Lewin and the GWPF have launched an excellent historical paper“  “Hubert Lamb And The Transformation Of Climate Science. For those who don’t know Hubert Lamb was the founding Director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (the infamous CRU of ClimateGate). He was also a skeptic.When he died the then director called him “the greatest climatologist of his time”.

He spent most of his career convincing the world that Earths climate was constantly changing. The irony then, was that the UN then redefined “climate change” to mean man-made climate change, and honored him with a building stocked with researchers who spent a lot of the time playing down all that natural variation. He earned the good will and reputation, and the UN spent it.

Lewin captures the repeating patterns of history. For decades Lamb fought the dogma that claimed the Earths climate was unchanging. He succeeded and was rewarded, but then the dogma was reborn in another guise:


“..Right through to the end of the 20th century the claim was that both models and data were showing the enhanced greenhouse effect emerging out of the background ‘noise’ of natural variations. Thus [...]

We achieved something. Thanks for your help.

Contact lists for our politicians were posted here early Sunday. The Daily Telegraph reports that MPs got close to 300 emails per electorate on the weekend, 20 – 1 in favor of Abbott. My message Friday and the message of emailers was that a shift to Turnbull would split the party. Passion against Turnbull runs deep.

Multiple Liberal MPs received close to 300 emails, per electorate, from the party faithful at the weekend with support for Prime Minister Tony Abbott running at “20-1”.

It can also be revealed in February 2009 when Mr Turnbull was Opposition Leader he trailed Labor 58 per cent to 42 per cent on the Newspoll two party preferred vote.

The Liberal Party’s primary vote was just 32 per cent.

Backbench MPs across Australia contacted by The Daily Telegraph last night confirmed constituents had launched an uprising against the change.


2013 heatwave “virtually impossible” without logical errors and broken climate models

The Climate Council calculate the “odds” that one warm year could be as hot as it was. But those “odds” depend on a logical fallacy, major, inexplicable adjustments and models we know are broken. There are invisible assumptions underlying that claim which are documentably untrue. The “odds”  might as well be lotto results.

The fallacy is argument from ignorance, a failure of logic and reasoning like saying “X is true, because we can’t think of anything else“.

To estimate meaningful odds, scientists would have to understand the major driving factors of our climate, well enough to be able to assign probabilities to outcomes. But their models are hopelessly broken, they can’t predict a decadal average on a global or continental scale. They can’t hindcast the past “bumps” without using major adjustments to make the raw observations fit the models. They don’t know why the medieval warm period was warm, they don’t know why the Little Ice Age was cool. They don’t know why the world started warming 200 years before we poured out industrial levels of CO2. They don’t know if the mystery factors driving our climate for the last 4.5 billion years are still operating. If we can’t predict the [...]

Leadership debacle in Australia — Tell the politicans what you think

UPDATE: Spill vote is now Monday, not Tuesday. Turnbull has not resigned, but announced he will challenge if the spill vote passes, and is mocking Abbott. — Bolt  Polls show Turnbull would deliver only a 6% bounce in the honeymoon. Not even enough to win a snap election.

UPDATE#2: The spill vote defeated 61:39. Abbott stays on as PM, but will have to do something differently, or he has only bought time until the next one.

Firey emails are crossing my desk today of people vowing to quit the Liberal party.

Malcolm Turnbull lost his leadership in 2009 because he wanted an emissions trading scheme. But that extraordinary wave may get reversed. Australia may still end up with an emissions trading scheme which will send billions in brokers fees to bankers, won’t change the climate, and will be almost impossible to unwind. It’s not about free markets, it’s about fake ones. What’s worse than a carbon tax? A carbon market.

In 2009, a week after ClimateGate, and two weeks before Copenhagen, the furious outcry from Coalition party supporters and skeptics turned the Liberal party upside down. The skeptic message has spread since then. In 2014, even [...]

Anti-PC Fun: Get “30 years” if you are sexist against a privileged white woman with a blog :-)

Never ever take the thought police seriously.

I’m not sexist, I’m not racist, I’m not ageist.

We just hate old white men.

Comedian: Neel Kolhatkar, Melbourne. | Youtube.

UPDATE: I’m reminded of this Sydney Morning Herald article two weeks ago. “Seven words you didn’t know were racist”. (Kaffir Lime. Peanut Gallery. Barbarian. Paddy Wagon. Gyp. Bugger and Sold down the River.) We can always rely on the SMH.

h/t warcroft

Leadership spill thread. It’s on, it’s off… who will be the PM next week?

The thread for discussing “the spill motion”. Will we get a new PM next week?

The attempted spill of the Australian PM is on.

Some skeptical MPs and commentators have been aggressively and publicly attacking Australian PM Tony Abbott, yet he’s has been one of the most skeptical PMs in the Western World. The climate debate is heating up again with Paris on this year. Seriously — is any alternative better?

Potential candidates include Julie Bishop, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. According to Dennis Shanahan both Turnbull and Morrison have said they will not challenge. The WA MP rebels (both skeptics) are apparently angling for Julie Bishop, a fellow West Australian.

Malcolm Turnbull is Australia’s version of David Cameron. Will Turnbull, ex Goldman Sachs, former opposition leader who died on the sword of an emissions trading scheme, be our PM next week? If Turnbull did run and win, the only bright point is it will be the best thing for those hoping to set up the equivalent of the UKIP in Australia. It could be the trigger for the conservatives to split from the Labor-lite Liberals. The passion against Turnbull runs deep.

The Nationals have vowed that Turnbull would have to [...]

UK Met Office uses graphical tricks to hide the pause

The UK Met Office went to some effort to graph the last 160 years, from hottest calendar year to coldest.

Name the scientific reason:

1. Because the order of the calendar years is important.

The graph reveals mysterious patterns  — Years ending in 3, 4, or 5 are more likely to be hotter. Years containing a six are statistically more likely to be green.


2. Because climate models show a linear rise in temperatures, and no “pause”, and this graph does too. Glance at it sideways and be afraid!

 The Met Office used to say one year doesn’t mean anything, only long term trends matter.

Now they graph the noise.

Thanks to Barry Woods for pointing me at this, and carefully putting the years back in their chronological order in the graph below.

See the pause? See the noise?

It’s a parody of science: The Conversation thinks creativity in science is about dance choreography

Exhibit One: Government funded “art”. *

Creative genius in science is about the people who break the rules and see a pattern that the consensus thinks is wrong or refuses to discuss.  But capture creative genius in a bureaucratic clamp, smother it with political correctness, and watch the flower die. That’s what The Conversation is for.

Say Hello to a parody of “creative science” in “Living data: how art helps us all understand climate change”. It’s not about scientists who challenge a paradigm, creative science is about cartoons and dances. It’s about glowing plastic sculptures.

A methodology that uses drawing and dance as tools of enquiry is a radical idea for those accustomed to the conventions of the scientific method. But when choreographic analysis is embedded within scientific research, pattern recognition can contribute to some startling discoveries.

Big-government bought science with monopolistic funding over the last 70 years, and it’s bought science-commentary too (e.g. academia, CSIRO, the ABC, The Conversation). We can’t have people highlighting the suffocating effect of bureaucracy, of grant applications, and deadlines!  Nor would Big-Government-Science ever seek out, support, and laud scientific work that showed that big-government science (which favours Big-Government policies) is wrong. Where’s the [...]

Write to a tree about climate change in the Melbourne City Council, and it will write back

Wait for it… “dozens” of Melbournians are writing emails to trees and the trees are writing back (thanks to paid staff who can speak Elmlish, Oatin, and Planely).  Lots of trees are being told they are set to die off thanks to climate change. The Stress!

Broadsheet Melbourne

Right now, you can log onto the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Visual map and email any tree you’d like within the council’s boundaries.

Yep, all 60,000 of them.

The Gulf Today. AE

But almost a quarter of its trees, including oaks, elms and planes, are set to die off by the end of the decade, and that figure will rise to almost 40 per cent by 2030, speeded by a devastating 13-year drought that broke in 2012.

“As our climate becomes more and more extreme, we’re going to have to look at trees that are fit for purpose,” Councillor Arron Wood said.

So you can write to a tree in Melbourne and it will write back:

The quirky emails, to which staff respond on behalf of the trees, are building awareness of climate change in Melbourne, regarded as Australia’s most European [...]

How to unscientifically hype insignificant noise in ocean “warming”

Time to panic:

Peter Hannam says: “The world’s oceans are heating at the rate of two trillion 100-watt light bulbs burning continuously…”

Maybe not?

 Jo says: “… that’s two trillion light bulbs, plus or minus 200 trillion…”

Conclusion: Random noise is coming to get you.

Scientists used to care about measurement error. Not so much any more. The ARGO buoys are marvelous high-tech robots, but each thermometer measures 200,000 cubic kilometers of ocean.  The thermometer in a buoy is accurate in a laboratory to 0.005C, but can they really detect global oceanic changes of five thousands of a degree?

Oh yessity say the scientists, because there are 3,000 thermometers. But, no no no thinks Jo. If they were all measuring the same swimming pool, having a lot of them would reduce the error, but each thermometer is measuring a different piece of ocean full of thermal noise. Some will argue that the the exact absolute temperature is not what matters, it’s the changing trend we need to measure. But these thermometers are not staying in one place measuring one tiny slice of the ocean, they roam randomly through water that varies [...]