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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Bjorn Lomborg gets funding for a new centre at UWA, howls and protests begin

UPDATE: What an extraordinary moment. UWA has announced that due to the unexpected “passion” of the staff and students they have to cancel the Lomborg Consensus Centre (May 8th 2015). They give no rational reason — this is caving in to bullies. The government needs to fund this centre as an independent unit. Academia in Australia is beyond saving. “Lomborg commits the unforgivable sin of failing to feed friends of big-government.”

Bjorn Lomborg writes in The Australian reasonably often, so he is fairly well known amongst the thinking set in Australia.

The Consensus Centre is coming to UWA, my old alma mater, and former home of Steven Lewandowsky, and PhD candidate John Cook. Strange company indeed. It is promising that something rational will probably come forth from UWA for a change. It’s also promising that the Abbott government seems to recognise the need to break the monopoly in funding by a small amount. The choice of UWA might not be as outlandish as people think. It is as politically as pathetically correct as any university, but it doesn’t have a major climate gravy train. Their climate science courses page says it all — they only have a generic enviro-science major, [...]

Fewer heatwaves for 9 million Australians in Sydney, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne –”thank CO2″!

Let’s play the Heatwaves PR game. If CO2 had an effect we’d see a significant increase in the rate of global warming over the decades since WWII, the models would work, and climate scientists would be able to predict our climate. Since none of that is true, those with a political agenda have to clutch at noisy but marketable extremes instead. Apparently even a half-true, noisy, non-causal link is good enough for post-modern scientists.

Heatwaves are perfect for generating scientific sounding fear, but not so useful for generating actual scientific knowledge. There are an infinity of ways to measure them. They can last 3 days – 160 days, and be cut off at any number from 35  – 40C, or at some percentile outlier. They can be measured one town at a time, or on a regional or state-wide level. The permutations are rich with headline scoring possibilities. And in the end, on a long warming trend that started 300 years ago, it is obvious, inevitable, and predictable that we should score more now. What’s surprising is how often we don’t.

On ABC radio before Easter, Dr Vertessy, Director and CEO of the Bureau of Meteorology, claimed that we are seeing [...]

The German electricity crisis – twice the price, but everyone’s going broke

When the Germans mess something up, they do it properly

Germany — is aiming for a 40% cut in carbon by 2020, and have “led the way” with solar and wind power. Electricity bills are now twice the price of those in North America, and some 800,000 poor people had their power cut off because they can’t pay their bills.  Despite the high prices, gas power has become uneconomic, even though it is one the best methods for dealing with the erratic energy delivered from wind and solar. Nuclear can’t save them, they will have none after 2022 when the last reactor turns off.

The pain is pointless. For all the money spent, they aren’t saving much CO2, and aren’t changing the weather.  They end up importing many of the goods which need energy, so the emissions occur in other countries without emissions controls. The German manufacturing sector can’t compete and struggles by on subsidies. Consumers pay more for goods or pay more through tax for the subsidies. Meanwhile, in the EU politicians seem to have realized that biofuels won’t work, but they don’t have the courage to kill them off and face the backlash — instead they fund it just [...]

The simple trick to solve the impasse in the climate debate — have one (Tell the Australian govt).

For the last twenty years, the IPCC and co. have spared no expense in inundating us with full gloss, swanky adverts and catchy bumper stickers. The Rudd government spent $13.9 million on one advertising campaign “Think Climate, Think Change”. Yet the number of skeptics is growing — fully 53% of Australians are skeptical. The debate is more polarised than ever, and the “deniers” are often blamed for slowing action. So resolving the impasse, the stalemate, ought be the highest priority for the planet, right? But more advertising won’t change the trend, the issue has been marketed to death. What hasn’t been tried is the old fashioned, hard but honest way to resolve an issue — real public debate.

Tony Abbott could be the most forward-thinking scientifically-advanced world leader. He could be the first to take the bull by the horns and really tackle the climate stalemate. He might break the impasse. For the planet’s sake, we can’t afford to wait. Right?

The Australian Federal Government is seeking public consultation 

What should the Greenhouse Gas Target be? The Federal Government is seeking your input for the UNFCCC meeting in Paris, COP 21 (see ABC news). The government also wants to know [...]

Monckton willing to bet $500,000 on icesheets

The  Age in Melbourne published a letter from a “Maurie” declaring that the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets would “melt away in the next decade.” Monckton found it hard to believe The Age would print this drivel, and was amazed to find Maurie, apparently, is one of Australia’s foremost chemists”, — Maurice Trewhella, who seems to have won a green award at the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. (Not that I have heard of him).

So Monckton explains why the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets won’t be gone in 2024 then offers Maurie, and four others, the chance to win $100,000 each if this wild prediction comes even ten percent close. To show he is serious he offers to donate the first $10,000 to charity (so will other bet contenders). Will the “mean area of the combined Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets” in 2024 be less than 90 percent of what it was in 2014″?

Christopher Monckton:

Some 4,000 years ago, the temperature on the summit of the Greenland plateau was 2.5 Celsius degrees warmer than the present. Yet the ice did not melt. And it didn’t melt in the last interglacial period, 110,000 years ago, when again the [...]

Support Willie Soon and science: This mudball gets return-to-sender

When personal, ad hominem attacks are launched against a scientist there is no upside for science. People who care about science discuss the science, not the scientist’s-biography. Instead there are five potentially ugly outcomes that the mudslingers are presumably aiming for:

The target scientist may be effectively silenced: spectators tune out. Weaker journalists feel less inclined to cite them for fear of the push-back against themselves. Another day where the scientific national conversation wallows in the gutter instead of discussing science. The target scientist feels dissuaded.  Who needs this hassle? The message to thousands of silent skeptical scientists is unmistakable –  “don’t speak” or you’re next. Philanthropists, and corporate donors feel the heat too, and may (if they are not made of strong stuff) figure that their funding does more harm than good. This starves independent science of essential support.

These attacks don’t raise a single scientific argument. Their aim is not “better science”.  Let’s turn the pain back on the mudslinger and those who aid and abet. It won’t be so much fun for them if each attack makes us stronger, crystallizes support, and exposes their anti-science intent.

This mud-ball is begging to be turned

We don’t want to play [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Margaret River | Photo Jo Nova on Friday (Click to enlarge) Trees are Karri and Marri.

Yes, I’ve been away again. Hence not so many posts and comments. This holiday thanks to reader Alex and his lovely family.

Hypothesis contradicted? Fatter people get *less* dementia

Researchers were sure fatter people would get more dementia, so they studied two million middle-aged people for nearly a decade but were “baffled to find the exact opposite. Their sample included 45,000 cases of dementia and the obese were 30 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with it.

This contradicts previous studies and was not at all what the researchers expected, so they analyzed the data every which way they could think of but can’t explain the results. Need I say “experts” and “consensuses”?

Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said they were baffled by the results as previous studies have shown that being overweight raises the risk. –Telegraph

Risk factors such as alcohol and smoking made little difference to the results, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.  — Mirror

Dr Qizilbash said the findings held despite attempts to adjust for other causes of dementia and the tendency of obese people to die earlier. “We did a lot of analysis to see if we could explain it but just seems to persist. We couldn’t get rid of it so we’re left with this apparent protective effect,” he said. [...]

The invisible swinging environmental vote (20% of the population?)

There’s another more subtle message to politicians from the Gallop poll last week. The headline we discussed was that a whole quarter of the US are emphatic skeptics who don’t worry “at all” about climate change. But the other message is that if the politicans want to show they care about the environment, nearly every major environmental issue is more important to voters than “climate change”: 55% of the population worries about water pollution but only 32% feel the same level of concern for global warming.

On environmental concerns, climate change has the highest profile, but is consistently low ranking in the concern-stakes. People are much more worried about clean water, lakes and rivers, and air pollution rather than “climate change”. There is room here for either side of politics to step over the top of the supposedly greenest left wing parties and win voters by tackling real pollution rather than the fantasy kind. Any party that took serious action on rivers and water would earn environmental kudos and swinging votes. They wouldn’t win the die hard green vote, because those votes are not about the environment anyway. But true swingers shift between the major parties, and they are less [...]

Two-thirds of Australias warming due to “adjustments” — according to 84 historic stations

1954 Yearbook Brisbane

Here’s an update to the digging through our historic records we discussed a month ago, we can now include nearly twice the stations and the difference between temperatures originally recorded 100 years ago and temperatures today are even smaller.

Chris Gillham has been working with CSIR documents and official Commonwealth Year Books. Last month he used the 1953 Year Book which contained 44 weather station averages for 1911-40 to compare with 2000-14 temperatures, but has since discovered that the 1954 Year Book provides an additional 40 stations with 1911-40 data. The average rise in mean temperatures across all 84 weather stations around Australia over the last 70 years of global warming is about 0.3C. This larger dataset suggests as much as two thirds of the current official trend in Australian warming was due to post hoc adjustments, not heat recorded by thermometers.

These historic temperatures were calculated by the best scientists of the day, using the best equipment of the era (the same Stevenson Screen we use now). Yet again, global warming appears to have a “man-made” contribution. Far more important than CO2 is man-made “pollution” called homogenisation.

When doubling the recorded trend makes “No difference”

Bear [...]

Al Gore warned of a planetary holocaust in 1989. Twenty-five years on where’s the Ecological Kristallnacht?

Almost exactly 25 years ago Al Gore, a Democrat Senator at the time, warned us of an ecological Kristallnacht in the New York Times. He didn’t use the term “denier” but he was talking up an unmistakable environmental holocaust. Since then CO2 levels have risen 50ppm, and the global population increased by two billion. Yet much of the article could be rerun today and who would know? He could just change the dates.

The 1990′s are the decade of decision. Profound changes are required.

In 1987, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere began to surge with record annual increases. Global temperatures are also climbing: 1987 was the second hottest year on record; 1988 was the hottest. Scientists now predict our current course will raise world temperatures five degrees Celsius in our lifetimes.

The holocaust was coming

Here’s the headline and opening paragraphs: March 19 1989

An Ecological Kristallnacht. Listen.

“Humankind has suddenly entered into a brand new relationship with our planet.  Unless we quickly and profoundly change the course of our civilization, we face an immediate and grave danger of destroying the worldwide ecological system that sustains life as we know it.”

Should Tony Abbott go Thatcherite on climate change? Skeptics say Yes please

Ian Dunlop in the Canberra Times, The Age, and The Sydney Morning Herald namecalls away, discusses a mythical creature called a “climate denialist” and shows how little research it takes to get an opinion page in the Fairfax mastheads. (Comments are “open” at these sites).

He thinks that PM Tony Abbott ought follow Margaret Thatcher on climate policy, without realizing that skeptics would say “Bravo — Yes Please” to that. Thatcher was a chemist, and no fool. In 2003 she made it clear, when few people did, that she was absolutely a skeptic.

Ian Dunlop 2015:

It is too much to expect the male-dominated, eminence-grise of the incumbency to rise to the occasion, but women might. There is a precedent. Margaret Thatcher, addressing the United Nations General Assembly in 1989:  ”We should always remember that free markets are a means to an end.  They would defeat their objective if, by their output, they did more damage to the quality of life through pollution than the wellbeing they achieved by the production of goods and services”. Just so.  You may not agree with Margaret Thatcher on many things, but on climate change she was spot on, three decades ahead of her male compatriots [...]

Flashback: Climatologists tell us an ice age cometh. The last couple of cold winters…

It was 1977. Things looked ominous:

 ”The argument that we face some long cold years is pretty convincing.”

The story was that some professors at the largest meteorology center said so — we’d had a couple of really cold winters, temperatures are falling, and the armadillo is moving.

“There’s a theory among climatologists that the  last two years of battering by winter mean that an ice age is returning to the Earth and ice ages Glaciers Down to the Mason-Dixon Line.”

“…the headlong retreat of the heat loving armadillo from Nebraska to the southwest and to Mexico…”

Climate scientists have come so far in 40 years. They would never make a fuss over a few freak seasons and an armadillo.

H/t to Tom Nelson (he’s back on twitter @tan123, thanks to skeptics) and Heartland. This is a great video originally reported by Julia Seymour at MRC Business report. See that link for the full commentary.

40 Years of Media Hype for Climate Alarmists | Heartlander Magazine“

“Warm periods like ours last only 10,000 years, but ours has already lasted 12,000. So if the rhythm is right, we are over-ready for a return of [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Hints of an Arctic Pause? 2007 – 2013

Another excuse may be on the rocks. The Arctic ice melt has been a favorite clarion of catastrophists. What will they do if it stops declining? It is early days, but if the missing heat is hiding in the Arctic this pattern is not following the green machine plan.

Cryosphere

David Whitehouse GWPF

A New “Pause?”

Examining the sea ice extent data for the past eight years it is obvious that there has not been any statistically significant downward trend, even though there is more noise (interannual variability) in the data. There are interannual variations but they do not form a trend. For the 2002 – 2006 period the annual differences are mostly in the extent of maximum and not minimum ice cover. The period 1990 – 1996 displays much more interannual variability. The main difference between the ice-curves is that in recent years there has been an increase in the gradient around the beginning of June.

Of the general decline and the interannual variability how much is due to external forcing and how much to internal variability? Estimate from climate models give about equal measure to forcing and internal variability, Kay et [...]