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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New Science 19b: A Synopsis

We’ve had a lot of requests for a single document to summarize the blog posts so far. Some people like to print and read all in one place (that’s me). I hope this helps. Skeptics on threads are busy cracking away at getting a rerouting mechanism fleshed out. The quest…  thanks to everyone who is supporting this project in so many ways, whether it be via email, sharing with others, or through donations. We really do appreciate it. We’re going to figure this out. :- ) — Jo

Dr David Evans, 15 November 2015, David Evans’ Basic Climate Models Home, Intro, Previous.

I’ve prepared a synopsis of the 19 posts in this series. It’s a standalone document of 20 pages that explains the important points, some from a different point of view than the blog series. The summary and introduction at the front are non-technical and suitable for politicians and journalists. The synopsis is light on for equations — there are some, but you can pretty much ignore them because it mostly reads fine without them.

If you wanted to show someone the series, this is the document to use. It is downloadable from the project home page, [...]

Weekend Unthreaded


Breaking: Terrorist atrocity kills 127 (+200 injured many critically) in France

Paris is under seige — Multiple terrorists arrived with AK 47s and bombs strapped to themselves in six separate attacks. The latest toll is 153 127 dead, and France has closed its borders. Our thoughts go out to the victims of these pointless atrocities, to all of their friends and families, and to all of France, in shock.

The Bataclan concert hall was attacked and people taken hostage, “at least 112″ killed.  A SWAT team arrived and over 100 hostages were released.  A suicide bomber attacked the Stade de France (the national stadium). President Holland had to be evacuated. There are gun attacks as well. There are reports of 14 people killed by gunshot at Le Petit Cambodge, a Cambodian restaurant.

Information from the CNN live update page.

Sky news Paris ‘bloodbath’ kills at least 160

UPDATE: Islamic State (ISIL) have claimed responsibility.

UPDATE: Death toll appears to be 127 plus 200+ injured, 99 critically.

Graphic sad stories in The Telegraph are rolling in.

With between forty and fifty thousand people converging on Paris in two weeks to start the UNFCCC COP21 meeting the obvious question is security [...]

Wow? On sea-levels NSW councils told to take “scientific” approach, not IPCC predictions

This is a big deal. Here’s a state government telling people to be more scientific, and not blindly follow the IPCC. This is a win we need to translate to other areas.

The former Labor government in NSW had told councils they had to plan for sea-level rise  “according to the IPCC”, but that made sea-side properties unsalable, and was pretty painfully stupid compared to what the tide gauges were actually saying (like in Sydney where the rise is a tiny 6cm a century). The new strategy says councils need to be scientific and look at the conditions on each beach separately.

In this issue, the costs of following the IPCC plan were borne by those living on the coast (and property developers), and that pain motivated them to press the State government to get the IPCC out of the way. This is a reminder that it is worth protesting and sane things do happen.

If we can get citizens of the free west to appreciate the true cost of the IPCC, it would surely be gone by 2020. Now there’s a target..

Rob Stokes announces shake-up of council coastal management

In an interview with The Australian, [...]

Blockbuster: Are hot days in Australia mostly due to low rainfall, and electronic thermometers — not CO2?

Blame dry weather and electronic sensors for a lot of Australia’s warming trend…

In this provocative report, retired research scientist Bill Johnston analyzes Australian weather records in a fairly sophisticated and very detailed way, and finds they are “wholly unsuitable” for calculating long term trends. He uses a multi-pronged approach looking at temperatures, historical documents, statistical step changes, and in a novel process studies the way temperature varies with rainfall as well.

His two major findings are that local rainfall (or lack of) has a major impact on temperatures in a town, and that the introduction of the electronic sensors in the mid 1990s caused an abrupt step increase in maximum temperatures across Australia. There will be a lot more to say about these findings in coming months — the questions they raise are very pointed. Reading, between the lines, if Johnston is right, a lot of the advertised record heat across Australia has more to do with equipment changes, homogenisation, and rainfall patterns than a long term trend.

Bill Johnston: On Data Quality [PDF]

“Trends are not steps; and temperature changes due to station changes, instruments and processing is not climate change”, he [...]

Divestment protests are astroturf: university students are paid pawns to be political activists

Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) study: Inside Divestment (pdf)

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement (FFDM) is running on more than 1000 American colleges and universities, and about 30 of them have “divested”. It’s embedded in the tertiary sector, some 4,000 profs have signed supportive petitions, and some teach it in lectures.

The authors of a new 290 page study on Divestment Campaigns say that it’s not the grassroots thing it poses as, but is driven by professional political activists and funded by wealthy donors and foundations. The organization pushing the US campaign,, pays and trains students to be activists. Key dates and events are decided from the top down.

It’s all another charade — the holier than thou promises to sell fossil fuel stocks are often just empty PR stunts.  Most divestment declarations are empty PR — 66% of the  universities are saying they divest but hanging on to some fossil stocks. And four universities have not sold a thing — including Oxford. (Where are those protests?). But in the end,  it doesn’t matter whether the divestments actually happen, a mere detail, [...]

New Science 19: The invisible nameless model that controls the whole field of climate science

Don’t underestimate the importance of the nameless basic model. It sounds small, but in the culture and philosophy of climate science it’s bigger and carries more weight than the massive hairy GCMs. Like an invisible gossamer web, it’s overarching. It spans and defines all the other models. When they produce “dumb” answers, the basic model holds them in, for thou shalt not stray too far from the climate sensitivity defined by the basic model. It defines what “dumb” is. (It’s just “basic physics” after all.) One model to bind them all. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot, apparently. The physics might be right, but the equations are calculating imaginary conditions. The answers might be arithmetically correct but useless at the same time. They miss the real route that energy flows through to space.

By definition, as long as the basic model is wrong, the GCM models can never  get it right.

It’s not like climate scientists consult the oracle of the basic model every day, or even once a year… they don’t need to. They were taught it their climate larval stage, often long before they’d written one paper. The basic model shows that the warming of [...]

Those policies will cause HOW much cooling exactly? The best case fantasy a mere 0.17C by 2100

Suppose we give billions to the bureaucratic geniuses in Paris. Suppose they are right about how global warming works (though we know they are not). What do we get for all that money?

Combined, all plans, carried out, successful best case, at a cost of hundreds of trillions + : 0.17°C

More realistic more pessimistic case: 0.05°C

If the infra-red reroutes through the atmosphere and climate sensitivity has been overestimated by 5 – 10 fold: 0.02°C

The UN wants us to spend $89 trillion by 2030 to “green up” everything. For that we hope in theory, if we’re lucky to get a reduction of one sixth of a degree 70 years later. Rush, Rush, buy that plan today! Order two, and don’t count the dead.

The real reduction, using the best empirical data, and a corrected basic model, is more likely to be in the order of one thousandth of a degree 9 decades from now.


Megadroughts in past 2000 years worse, longer, than current droughts

What hockeystick eh?

A new atlas shows droughts of the past were worse than those today — and they cannot have been caused by man-made CO2. Despite the claims of “unprecedented” droughts, the worst droughts in Europe and the US were a thousand years ago. Cook et al 2015[1] put together an old world drought atlas from tree rings data as a proxy for summer wetness and dryness across Europe. They compare the severity and timing of European droughts with the North American Drought Atlas (NADA) released in 2004. Yes, it’s a tree ring study with all the caveats about how trees are responding to several factors at once etc etc. But at least the modern era is measured with the same proxy as used in the old eras.

Something else is causing droughts, something modern models don’t include:

“megadroughts reconstructed over north-central Europe in the 11th and mid-15th centuries reinforce other evidence from North America and Asia that droughts were more severe, extensive, and prolonged over Northern Hemisphere land areas before the 20th century, with an inadequate understanding of their causes.”

The worst megadrought in the California and Nevada regions was from 832 to 1074 CE (golly, [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Beautiful to watch: Davies UK M.P. quotes IPCC in Parliament as a reason to be skeptical

This video gives me hope. Finally we are starting to see more sane commentary in western parliaments. David TC Davies MP shows how politicians can master enough of the scientific details on this debate to crush the usual bumper-sticker trite “consensus” hogwash. He talks of Roman warming, the Medieval Warm Period, the Younger Dryas, the age of the Earth. It’s high school science type level, but more than enough to expose some of the silliness. He also counters the “climate change denier” tag. He cites just enough key numbers to back up each of his points. His skill here is in prioritizing the numbers that matter. Here’s hoping a few of the silent political skeptics will feel more confident to speak out. The bullying and namecalling breaks when enough people stand up to it. That’s coming.

No one I’ve ever met has ever suggested the climate never changes…

Even the IPCC is not saying that most of the warming [since industrialisation] is caused by humans …

It is absolutely certain that the more we rely on renewable energy the more we have to pay for it. No politician from any party should be running [...]

The mystery of a massive 9Gt of CO2 that came and went — could it be phytoplankton?

There is a mystery peak in global CO2 levels in 1990. For some reason from 1989 suddenly global carbon levels jumped higher than they normal would and by 9,000 million tonnes (that’s equivalent to 2,500 mT of carbon)*. It’s only a little blip in an upward line, but as a deviation from the long steady norm, it’s a dramatic change (see the second graph below). Within a few years the excess disappeared and the reasonably straight line increase in CO2 resumed. The sudden jump is equivalent to nearly half of our total annual human fossil fuel emissions. Nothing about this peak fits with the timing of human induced fossil fuel emissions. These were not big years in our output (indeed it coincides with the collapse of the soviet block when inefficient Russian industry was shut down) .

The mystery of the massive CO2 bubble exposes how little we know about why CO2 levels rise and fall, and whether human emissions make much difference. The world is spending $4 billion dollars a day trying to change this global CO2 level of 0.04% (400ppm) but apparently other large forces are at work pushing up CO2, and then absorbing [...]

New Science 18: Finally climate sensitivity calculated at just one tenth of official estimates.

Image: NASA

In years to come it may be recognized that this blog post produced the first modeled accurate figure for climate sensitivity. Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity sounds dry, but it’s the driving theme, the holy grail of climate science. The accurate figure (whatever it is) summarizes the whole entirety of  carbon dioxide’s atmospheric importance. That number determines whether we are headed for a champagne picnic or a baking apocalypse.

To calculate a better estimate, David identified the flaws of the conventional basic model, and rebuilt it. The basic climate model is the top-down approach looking at inputs and outputs of the whole system. It defines the culture and textbooks of the modern global warming movement. GCMs (the big hairy coupled global models) are bottom-up approaches, doomed to failure by trying to add up every detail and ending up drowning in mile-high uncertainty bands. But the GCMs are ultimately tweaked to arrive at a similar ballpark climate sensitivity as the textbook model for the “basic physics” dictates. Hence this core model is where the debate needs to be. (Everyone knows the GCMs are broken.)

For decades the world of conventional climate research has been stuck in a groundhog day [...]

54% of Australians skeptics of man-made global warming, 80% don’t donate to environment or vote for it

The devastating result of the latest CSIRO survey: 54% of Australians don’t believe the experts at the IPCC, and are not convinced that humans are the dominant cause of climate change. Starkly, only 28% of Liberal voters agree with Malcolm Turnbull. Amazingly 40% of Labor voters and even a quarter of green voters don’t accept the IPCC litany. Presumably they think humans have some effect but are not the major cause.

More importantly, even most of those who believe are not motivated. When it comes to spending money on the environment, 80% of Australians don’t voluntarily do it and 80% don’t care enough to change their vote because of this issue. Despite all the relentless propaganda, despite all the government funded groups being in lock-step, the trends are slowly falling for believers (from 2010-2014), though not “statistically significantly”. (Though longer term studies from 1990 to now show that falling trend).

The survey: CSIRO — Australian attitudes to Climate Change, 2015 PDF

Don’t miss below how a climate science professor reveals that most of the people he knows  just follow their political team’s fashions. How telling? Also below, see how the ABC spins this to meaninglessness to support the [...]

UN wants an ‘international tribunal of climate justice’ — power to tell democracies what to do

Thus do the claws of centralized big-government grow. I’s a committee, then a tribunal, then one day, a court?

An actual international court would end up being corruption-in-a-can — (think FIFA but with more money). The only way any legal system can work is with one law for all. As soon as countries can have individual targets, clauses and excuses, the wheeling and dealing begins. But a climate court won’t even pretend to start with an even playing field.

The danger of a system that doesn’t have “one rule for all” is already obvious in western democracies, where legal rights are being eroded by individual licensing systems. One farmer speaks out, and is slapped with 33 conditions that other farms don’t have to meet — their cash flow is cut and they slowly bleed dry, fighting all the while, and constantly being offered the possibility of better conditions “any month now”. Other farmers become afraid to speak, lest they get targeted. The Bureaucrats divide and conquer and become Kingmakers.

Daily Mail writes on the International Tribunal of Climate Justice — Sara Malm

The United Nations may launch an International Tribunal of Climate Justice which could see states [...]