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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Greenpeace slam Australia’s new Environment Minister (so Frydenberg can’t be all bad)

The one thing Malcolm Turnbull has got right in the last year?    Out with Greg Hunt, and in with Josh Frydenberg.

The new ministry has been announced, as predicted, without magnanimity, wisdom or grace. There is no role for Tony Abbott; Turnbull is still too afraid of him. But Greg Hunt has finally been moved out of the Environment portfolio which can only be a good thing. He has been a key proponent of passionate and pointless action on the weather, and was central to stopping a BOM audit and bringing in a carbon tax. Almost any other minister might actually try to get better science (see here and here), and solve real environmental problems instead of fake ones. Perhaps finally an environment minister may recognise that we need temperature data that can be independently replicated if we are ever going to understand the Australian climate?

The Dept of Environment has been merged with Energy which makes sense for carbon traders and the renewables industry, but perhaps not for the environment.

The new environment minister looks good

The Sydney Morning Herald has put together the praise for Josh Frydenberg:

Former Greens leader Bob Brown said Mr Frydenberg [...]

Climate change is potentially a $7 Trillion dollar money making venture (for bankers)

The tide of money, the vested interests flows

H/t to Eric Worrall at WattsUp.

The current “green” industry is already around $1.5 Trillion a year. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England said he expects this to grow to $5-7 trillion.

Financial Post: Climate change a $7 trillion funding opportunity

He said that given the enormous funding needs for clean infrastructure — he estimates at somewhere between $5 trillion and $7 trillion a year — investment opportunities will rebound.

 If clean green energy was efficient, cheap and reliable there would be no “funding need” as the market would leap to exploit that opportunity. Instead most leading investors act like they are skeptics. The fact that central bankers are selling it so aggressively says a lot. Perhaps central bankers want to help the poor and save the world, or could it be that the entire financial industry will profit from a fake, forced market and another fiat currency? What are the brokerage fees on a $7T market…

Again we get this “free market” myth:

[Carbon pricing is the cleanest way for markets to judge the tangible exposure to climate change," said Carney

Weekend Unthreaded

Something serious happening to the Chinese economy?

Something suddenly changed in December last year in the world’s second largest economy (some say it’s the first). For the last few years private investors in China have been running away at a faster and faster pace. Apparently, no one wants to invest in the Chinese economy except the government, and six months ago, the State launched a rocket.

The massive growth of China is partly thanks to rampant money-printing. Say hello to Malinvestment. The Chinese economy is sick. It’s distraction time. Anyone want to stoke a war?


I saw the graph on the ABC news last night thanks to Phillip Lasker. The original graph came from Bloomberg under this unlikely headline:

 China Proves Doubters Wrong For Now as Credit Boom Stokes Growth

“Stoking Growth” is not always desirable — to go biological — cancer “stokes growth” and so does Ebola.

“The amount of cash Beijing is shoveling into the economy is stunning,” said Andrew Collier, an independent analyst in Hong Kong and former president of Bank of China International USA. “Given high fixed-asset investment among state-owned enterprises, it’s likely most of it is being consumed by the inefficient state sector. This is [...]

This is not a tribute

On Candlelit vigils for the people in Nice

What Tim Blair says: Ditto

After so many repetitions, these events are now actually insults. They are not about the victims. They are about the mourners. They are indulgent displays of emotion that serve only to generate soothing feelings of moral comfort and to mask what should be a united and righteous fury.

Tonight’s attendees should consider this. While you see every lit candle as a poignant reminder of life’s tragic fragility, Islamic State sees them as post-game bonus points.

I know people want to talk about the atrocity in France. I wish. But thanks to Section 18C you will have to talk in other nations where offending someone is not an offence.  Or perhaps if you are lucky you might be able to discuss this somewhere in Oz where they have paid staff to moderate and lawyerate. See also Andrew Bolt’s: We cannot keep living in this fear.

Heartfelt thoughts to the victims and their families on a dark day.

The rise of the skeptics — Brexit shifts the ground: Boris promoted, DECC gone

Don’t underestimate the Brexit effect. The landscape is shifting.

The Paris agreement just became less likely. The UK Dept of the environment will submerge, and Boris Johnson, the outspoken skeptic and Brexit figurehead, has been promoted to foreign minister.

James Delingpole says: Britain’s New Prime Minister Drives A Stake Through The Heart Of The Green Vampire

Britain no longer has“the greenest government ever.”   This is good news. Very good news. The agonised screeching of all the usual suspects in the Environmental movement will be enough to sustain many of us in lols for weeks and months to come.

Five years ago, could we imagine an “infamous climate denier” like Boris rewarded in any Western Government? There were closet skeptics in the cabinet, but that’s not the same. In Australia, Tony Abbott once said climate change was “crap” and somehow still managed to become PM, but once he was, his official line was the permitted global warming story. ( He pandered, but in the most sensible possible way. And because he did not flagrantly add to the climate slush fund they still called him a “denier” but he rarely said anything openly skeptical.).

To have Boris in such an [...]

At the zoo: Interpreting academics trying to interpret Christians and conservatives

Geniuses at Rice made a breakthrough and discovered that Christianity reduces the “negative” effect of being a conservative. Conservatives, see, are less likely to buy things that are “pro-environment”. The academic mindset assumes this is a personality flaw. Instead it’s an attribute. The environmental movement has a record of hurting the poor, razing forests, and destroying family businesses. There is a reason “environmentalist” has come to be a dirty word.

Supersize that condescension:

Obviously the true evil people are the people who watch Fox.

“Put more colorfully, Americans who are watching Fox News instead of attending church on Sunday morning appear to be particularly uninterested in buying with the environment in mind,” said Ecklund, who is also director of Rice’s Religion and Public Life Program. “It would stand to reason that those who participate in their houses of worship and who tend to be more engaged in civic life may have less time to be exposed to such media and therefore be less likely to follow the politicized conservative ‘line’ with respect to the environment.”

So, both Christians and conservatives are dump people who are fooled by Fox. But Christians are a bit more useful, not because they [...]

Gergis Australian hockeystick is back: How one typo took four years to fix

UPDATED: See below for Stephen McIntyre’s response, with details of emails showing that Joelle Gergis did not independently discover the problem but learnt of it from Climate Audit.

The Gergis hockeystick was heralded in the media for a week in 2012 before it was cut apart online and months later, quietly withdrawn.  Headlines raved that Australia was having the “hottest years in the millennium”. As I said at the time, it was all silly beyond belief – the whole study relied on two bunches of trees in Tasmania and New Zealand to tell us that the greater continental area was 0.09°C warmer now than it was in 1000AD.  If trees in yonder Tassie can tell the whole continental temperature to a tenth of a degree, who needs thermometers (especially the kind which need 2 degree corrections)? Why does the BOM bother today?

Part II of this sorry paper has arrived under this auspicious headline at The Conversation:

“How a single word sparked a four-year saga of climate fact-checking and blog backlash”

Still hurts eh?

Look out. The Scientific Saints have arrived!

According to Joelle Gergis, skeptics found just “one typo”, and in Gergis’ own words “Instead of taking [...]

85% clinical medical research is false, or not useful, not worth the money – government funded waste

John Ioannidis paints a picture of a vast hive of researchers all pushed to publish short papers that are mostly a waste of time. The design is bad, the results useless (even when meta-collated with other badly designed studies). Basically, humankind is pouring blood, sweat and tears into spinning wheels in medicine — just paper churn. Most papers will never help a patient.

Ioannidis wants rigor – full registration before the study, full transparency afterwards, fewer studies over all, but with better design. Astonishingly, fully 85% of what is spent on clinical trials is wasted. It’s really a pretty big scandal, given that lives are on the line. I can’t see the media or pollies joining the dots. Imagine how many quality life-years are being burnt at the stake of the self-feeding Science-PR-Industry.

And this is clinical medical research, where standards are higher than in many other scientific areas and where there are easily defined terms of success unlike “blue sky” studies. Ioannidis doesn’t say it directly, but his description of the effect current funding has (which is almost all government based) almost guarantees that researchers will be wasting time in the paper churn — fast, short papers of little [...]

Unfortunately Australia has a government

We knew it was going to happen sometime. Shorten has conceded defeat. Turnbull stays on as a weakened PM.

It’s a Delcon win

For Defcons / Delcons this outcome was close to as good as it gets. How could an unfunded, disorganized group vote for “not Turnbull” without handing the government to a Labor-Green group? Individual voters can’t vote for a “hung weak government”. For a whole glorious week Turnbull has been tortured with calls for his resignation with his faults laid out bare. Several Turnbull supporters were targeted and removed. The antithesis of the hard left (Pauline Hanson) has gained a voice. The Nationals grew stronger and the Liberals were punished.

All this, despite the mainstream media barely mentioning Delcons, and hardly ever interviewing minor party candidates (except for Greens). This result was achieved despite GetUP running a $3m dollar campaign* in exactly the opposite direction targeting Abbott supporters.

Sinclair Davidson (and many in the pro-Turnbull camp) are declaring that Abbott would have lost, but they use polls from a year ago, or polls about a man who didn’t campaign to be PM. And we all know how reliable polls are. Turnbull nearly lost the election because he wouldn’t [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Some renewable-energy subsidies are stupidly, insanely expensive, says emissions trader

The price of carbon permits makes them useless. Governments have issued too many permits, and also put in competing programs to reduce CO2 emissions. The collective Green Gravy train is fracturing and now even frustrated carbon traders are pointing out that parts of the save-the-world-program make no sense.

Tough to Keep the World From Warming When Carbon Is This Cheap

“Some of the renewable-energy subsidies are stupidly, insanely expensive per ton of carbon dioxide saved,” said Louis Redshaw, who has his own emissions-trading company, Redshaw Advisors Ltd. in London, and was previously head of carbon at Barclays Plc. “Politicians are not only failing to deliver a comprehensive carbon price for the economy, they are busy undermining them where they exist.”

 The price of carbon is destined to achieve its true value — nothing. The only reason it hasn’t done that already is thanks to governments changing the rules to keep it alive.

Carbon trading is still a big merry-go-round even if it’s going nowhere:

 Today, there are 38 countries, cities, states and provinces using pricing systems in an attempt to put a lid on greenhouse gases, according to the World Bank.

(If you [...]

New Paper finds ocean circulation drives the climate on the surface

During the last ice age (and others before it)  temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere would abruptly swing up and down by a hefty 3 – 6°C  every 1,500 years or so. A new study using isotopes on the sea floor rather provocatively suggests that the Atlantic ocean circulation was to blame. Apparently it slowed almost to halt, and before the surface water cooled. It seems that when the Atlantic currents slow too far they stop bringing warmer water north from the equator and Southern Hemisphere, and thus the north ices over.  During these super-cold periods the ice sheets spread down and cover much of North America, (and real estate in Australia costs a motza). Massive icebergs break off and drift, but apparently things took a lot longer to get cold in the Southern Hemisphere, and the north and south possibly got a bit out of whack cooling and warming in opposite phases. The researcher used the word “bipolar”.

The $64 trillion dollar question is if ocean currents cause climate change, what causes the ocean currents? The researchers don’t know. (Seems kind of important). Things stabilized out in the last 10,000 warm years. It looks like the wild swings don’t occur [...]

Politically-tragic soft left journalists completely missed the Defcon vote

Journalists are still wondering what happened

“How did we get it wrong?” asks Matthew Knott.

The post election dissection is a study in how a fishbowl of left-leaning journalists totally missed what was important to most of Australia. Maybe the ABC or Fairfax might want to employ a conservative?

Journalists talked, and nobody cared

The journalists said the Coalition would win. They analyzed their movements seat-by-marginal-seat, mapping the flights, wallowed in hours of same-sex marriage debate, asked what happened to climate change, and debated whether the big-spending deficits had killed off Labor’s chances. Every nuance of the soapie called Turnbull-v-Abbott was discussed — did Turnbull snub him by listing former PM’s and not Abbott? Did Abbott grin, or grimace? Navel gazers opined that the Brexit shock would push even more people to the conservative side, it will be “a defining moment of the campaign” they said — as if UK trade agreements with Germany would a/ disappear, or b/ rank in the top sixty things Australia voters cared about. And Leigh Sales asked every candidate whether each leader would still be their leader next week. As if any politician would ever reply “no” the week before an election.

The media [...]

Another great day in a land with no government

It can’t last, but today in Australia we still have no government. Smile!

I’m enjoying this, brief, best possible outcome. I didn’t want either side to win, and they haven’t. Give us more. :- )

Latest Tally: Libs 72 — Labor  66. Others 5. Undecided 7. 

Of the undecideds –  five seats are leaning to Labor, two to the Liberals. But the Liberals need four more seats to hold a majority. (Turnbull may be the new Gillard.) Counting is still only at the 80% mark in these crucial last seats, and things are close — one is only “leading” by 150 votes or so out of 80,000. This could go on all week.

Two months ago, I estimated there were at least a million votes that “don’t matter”, but there turned out to be nearly twice as many — 1.7 million Delcon / Defcon type voters out of 12 million. These are people who voted for a conservative candidate outside of the Liberal party. That’s a force that needs galvanizing…

Cory Bernardi invites people to join The Australian Conservatives — a grassroots movement (not a political party):

“If you believe in limited government, traditional [...]