A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper




The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



“Green” cars cause real pollution, and now scamming fuel economy too – Half the CO2 “cuts” imaginary

Carbon markets = corruption

Fake markets are easy to scam, because no one really wants or cares about “the product”. Fake markets are dangerous tools. Judging by the way people act, the point of carbon markets is to feed bureaucrats and bankers, not to change the weather.  If that’s true, it’s entirely predictable that yet another scandal has run for years, and no one “noticed” or acted to stop it. Not only were diesel cars scamming the lab tests for pollution, but other cars were built to exploit loopholes (that may be legal) in the lab tests for fuel economy as well. The audacity is remarkable — real car CO2 emissions are often a gobsmacking 40- 50% higher than reported, even in top brand, expensive cars.*

As much as two-thirds of CO2 cuts since 2008 may have been imaginary and made by cars that were only fuel efficient in the lab. CO2 “pollution” doesn’t hurt anyone, but misleading fuel economy figures may have cost owners €450 a year more in fuel to run. The companies known to get suspiciously good results on fuel economy (so far) are BMW, Mercedes, Renault and Peugeot. Companies using software to get around other pollution [...]

Lo! Shark god protects us from storms, floods, heatwaves (sayth Nature & ABC)

Big news: A new endogenous forcing found for climate change — sharks. For millions of years you thought predator-prey relationships were just about big fish having dinner, but not so, they are climate forcings. Sharks cool the planet, and stop storms, floods, droughts and malaria. Crabs, on the other hand, pollute like a coal company. It’s a miracle that the planet made it through the last billion years without the EPA managing the  shark-crab numbers thing. This ABC interview inspired me to channel the spirit of neolithic science.

The dusken-shark doth smite the naughty fishies and give us nice weather

New research has found that sharks play an important role in preventing climate change, warning that overfishing and culling sharks is resulting in more carbon being released from the seafloor.

“Sharks, believe it or not, are helping to prevent climate change,” said Dr Peter Macreadie, an Australian Research Council Fellow from Deakin University and one of the paper’s authors.

Sharks: Good.  Crabs and Turtles: Bad.  Kill those turtles!

“Turtles, crabs, certain types of worms, stingrays — these animals that are overabundant to do with loss of predators used to keep their numbers in check,” [...]

Ideology adds heat to the debate on climate change — Jennifer Marohasy

The national conversation is all about “seeming” and “confidence”. Greg Hunt (Environment Minister) boasted that he stopped an investigation into the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), and prevented “due diligence” being a part of a one-day wonder “forum”.

His justification:

“In doing this, it is important to note that public trust in the Bureau’s data and forecasts, particularly as they relate to bushfires and cyclones, is paramount,” [Greg Hunt] said.

It used to be that public trust occurred when organizations were fully investigated, accountable, and found clean. Now “Public Trust” is apparently increased when there are no investigations, or only weak whitewashes. Either the public has got a lot stupider, or the media and ministers have.

Plenty of the self anointed (those who know more than the dumb punters) thought Hunt’s boast was a big achievement. Anthony Sharwood, News Corp journalist (oh for a “reporter”!), wondered if the government was paranoid for wanting to check the BOM. Perhaps next he’ll be calling for global corporates to figure out their own tax bill; who needs professional auditing, right — it’s just “paranoid”?

But the bad news for Hunt and the Bureau (and Sharwood) is that the Truth will out, the [...]

UK Energy Minister gives £5.8 billion of funding to UN to make everyone richer, may stem migration too

A few weeks ago UK Minister Amber Rudd cut subsidies to solar in the UK. I thought the UK government might be showing some signs of making sense, but now it appears Rudd was saving up for a UN gift:

The UK is increasing the money for climate activities in the development pot by at least 50%, to a further £5.8 billion of funding from April 2016 to March 2021, including at least £1.76bn in 2020. The UK is a leader on climate finance – we are the only G7 nation to meet the 0.7% aid commitment and the only one to enshrine it in legislation.

The UK is a leader on climate finance – we are the only G7 nation to meet the 0.7% aid commitment and the only one to enshrine it in legislation.The UK is a leader on climate finance – we are the only G7 nation to meet the 0.7% aid commitment and the only one to enshrine it in legislation.

Luckily it doesn’t cost money to fix the weather, it makes money.

To ensure a more secure and prosperous future for us all, the UK is playing its part [...]

New Science 6: How the Greenhouse Effect Works and “four pipes” to space

The Earth’s atmosphere is a leaky bucket, with four big holes (and a lot of little ones).

Whole libraries have been filled with talk of a single characteristic emissions layer — a simplistic idea that there is one effective “surface” that radiates to space. It exists in an abstract sense, after sufficient averaging, but it’s a paradigm that doesn’t help us think clearly. In any case, it’s too simple for our purposes in this series. In reality there are many layers that radiate to space, different for each type of molecule that can emit longwave radiation (which means infrared). Then there are the surface and cloud-tops too.

Energy comes in one way but leaves through at least four different paths.

To follow this series you’ll need to understand the concept of four pipes through which energy flows to space. It’s a powerful idea and big advance on the simpler notion of one-pipe-in and one-pipe-out. For those not as familiar with photons and excited molecules, you may want to read the “Background” section at the end of the post first.

For a photon there are a lot of paths to space

Some photons at Earths surface will be at [...]

New Science 5: Error 2: Model architecture means all feedbacks work through the surface temperature?

And the series continues, poking another hole in the models, with bigger holes to come.

See the larger version in the post below

What if CO2 caused more greenery, which produced more volatile organic gases, which increased rainfall and changed cloud cover? The models would be blind to it. They’re “supercomputer-complicated”, but miss many of the feedbacks on Earth. The only feedbacks the models consider are ones that occur because of changes in temperature. And worse, it’s not just changes in temperature, but specifically, changes in surface temperature.

If, say, cosmic rays caused a change in cloud cover, or the Sun influenced ozone which in turn caused the jet streams to shift closer to the equator, there are no feedbacks worth mentioning according to the large GCM models. The conventional basic model assumes, is built on the idea that nothing causes changes to Earth’s climate unless it works through surface heating — and the GCMs have the same architecture. Cloud cover does not change ice cover. Ocean currents don’t change cloud cover. Changes in biology don’t change clouds. Only changes in surface temperature changes cloud cover.

It’s a good place to start looking for missing negative feedbacks (though, [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

New survey: Nearly one third in US say “climate change a total hoax”

How the landscape is shifting.  If we give people the right question instead of the usual loaded surveys, they surprise us. Here’s an opinion poll with an outrageously skeptical option: “climate change is a total hoax”.

Bloomberg Politics National Poll

31% of US voters surveyed said they strongly or mostly agreed.

See what happens when you ask a good question?


I’m going to read stances some candidates have taken on key issues. For each, please tell me if you strongly agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree, or strongly disagree. (Read list. Rotate.)

Total Agree Total Disagree Strongly Agree Mostly agree Mostly Disagree Strongly Disagree  Not sure Climate change is a total hoax   31    65  17  14   20 45 4


In March 2015 a Gallup poll on Climate Change suggested that 24% of the US population worried “Not at all”. I called these the “implacable skeptics”. I’d argue now that the implacable skeptic group stands at 31% who agree that it is a “total hoax”.

Has it really grown this much since March? Perhaps the ramp up of the US presidential campaign, with Republican candidates like Trump competing to be openly skeptical [...]

New Science 4: Error 1: Partial Derivatives

And so begins the list of errors. The conventional basic climate model (see post 1 for why it is important, post2 and post 3 for what it is) is based on partial derivatives of dependent variables, and that’s a No No. Let me explain: effectively basic climate models model a hypothetical world where all things freeze in a constant state while one factor doubles.* But in the real world, many variables are changing simultaneously and the rules are  different.

Partial differentials of dependent variables is a wildcard — it may produce an OK estimate sometimes, but other times it produces nonsense, and ominously, there is effectively no way to test. If the basic climate models predicted the climate, we’d know they got away with it. They didn’t, but we can’t say if they failed because of a partial derivative. It could have been something else. We just know it’s bad practice.

To see an example of how partial differentials can produce quixotic contradictions in a normal and simple situation, see what happens when they are used with the Ideal Gas Law in this PDF from MIT.

Partial derivatives are useful [...]

Camouflage illusions in the matrix: same mysterious temperature, same day, year after year

Wait til you see what Lance Pidgeon has found. He was looking at the BOM website temperature archive maps of Australia for early last century (using AWAP data). He was wondering how the Bureau of Meteorology could possibly create maps this detailed for specific days that long ago. He was especially curious about the remote, vast areas where there were no thermometers, yet there were wiggly jiggly temperature lines on the map, shaded as if they had meaning. I’ve heard that more people have visited the South pole, than have stood at the point in central Australia where the three large western and central states meet.

Then he noticed something positively strange — April 14th in 1915 and one year later in 1916 looked almost identical, as did the same day in 1917. The more he looked, the weirder things got. He plodded, year after year, all the way from 1911 to 1917, then through Jan, Feb, March, and so on.  Worse, he tells me he could keep going right through to 1956 without seeing much change (though there are interesting exceptions). After that, temperatures of the area start to vary from year to year, like the “weather” we’d expect if we [...]