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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The South Australian black out — A grid on the edge. There were warnings that renewables made it vulnerable

Australians are going to be talking about this for weeks. Indeed, the SA Blackout is the stuff of legend.

The Greens are blaming coal (what else?) for causing bad storms and blackouts. Forget that Queensland gets hit with cyclones all the time and the whole state grid doesn’t break. Some greenies are also raging against “the politicization” of the storms. Yes, Indeedy. Go tell that to Will Steffen.

We are not being told the whole story. We do know that South Australia has the highest emphasis on renewables in the world. It also has a fragile electricity network, and wild price spikes to boot. (Coincidence?) The death of a few transmission towers should not knock out a whole state, nor should it take so long to recover from. The storm struck worst north of Adelaide near Port Augusta but the juicy interconnector from Victoria runs in from the south, and goes right up past Adelaide and most of the population. Why couldn’t the broken parts of the system be isolated?

Digging around I find ominous warnings that while the lightning and winds probably caused the blackout, the state of the South Australian grid appeared to be teetering on the brink, [...]

Entire state of South Australia without electricity as storm hits

South Australia, population 1.7 million, has no electricity

Tweeted by the Country Fire Service @CFSAlerts

A storm hit, possibly the worst for 50 years. Winds of 90km/hr gusting to 140km/hr. Reports are that everyone is being told to use their radio’s and stay off the streets. The blackout struck at 4.30pm AEST. UPDATE: Power is coming back to some, but questions are being asked about the state which has more renewable energy than any other in the world. See updates below. It sure looks like a management disaster. Want to build subs by torchlight?

How long before someone blames climate change?


UPDATE#1: Bingo. Just 5 hours for Will Steffen to claim it’s “driven by climate change”:

9:55pm “Storms like the one which knocked out the entire South Australian electricity network are occurring in a warmer and wetter atmosphere, the Climate Council’s Professor Will Steffen said. “These conditions, driven by climate change, are likely increasing the intensity of storms like the one in South Australia,” he said. “Australians are being affected right now by climate change. “The atmosphere is packing much more energy than 70 years ago… This is a prelude to a disturbing future.

Nevermind that [...]

Nature paper pushes wild exaggeration of 7-13C “climate sensitivity”! Even Gavin Schmidt calls them out.

Lordy. Lordy. How did Snyder 2016 get past rigorous peer review and into a supposed “top” journal like Nature?

Carolyn Snyder did a 2 million year temperature reconstruction then assumed that all the warming in the whole record was caused by CO2, she then carried that correlation right through to reach the absurd conclusion that climate sensitivity is not 2 – 4C, but 7 to 13 freaking degrees. (Did she study climate science by watching Al Gore?)

Normally we’d expect a climate expert to know that orbital mechanics drive most of the changes.

Don’t look now, but Gavin Schmidt has done the right thing and pointed out a very silly conclusion that Nature and all their reviewers missed. (If only Nature had asked bloggers to review it …)

This obvious mistake has caught out a lot of the press. It was also missed by The ABC, The Conversation, Andrew Glikson etc etc.  The Daily Mail (UK) published a version by Associated Press, and they at least asked Michael Mann who said he “remains skeptical until more research confirms it” (as if!), and  Jeremy Shakun, who said it “seems too high”. Though AP buried those weak warnings and still went with [...]

Despite record hottest year even a loaded vague climate survey shows 61% don’t agree with experts

After the hottest ever El Nino year with relentless propaganda on Australian media,  even a loaded survey finds that only 39% of Australians agree that humans are the major drivers of the climate. The survey is being painted as a success by obedient “journalists”. But this is not skyrocketing support, it’s more likely last gasp noise. The results will be down again next year (with the weather).

It is yet another meaningless motherhood survey that avoids asking real questions, offers unbalanced answers, and uses the same ambiguous language as most of these pointless surveys do. Would you like apple-pie?

Who doesn’t want nicer weather — and for free?

The questions climate fans are too scared to ask

Obviously The Climate Institute don’t want real answers, which they must know would be devastating. They won’t ask how much people want to pay out their own pocket to fix the climate. They won’t ask people to rank “climate change” against all the other issues they care about.  They won’t ask people if Climate Change is a scam, a con, or a scheme to make the green industry rich (a year ago a US poll showed 31% were happy to call climate change [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

How to make climate graphs look scary — a reply to XKCD

This week XKCD (a popular Geek comic site) posted an epic cartoon called “A Timeline Of Earth’s Average Temperature”. It was a cutesy long godzilla hockey-stick — “scary” to the unwary.

It’s easy to make a scary historical-looking temperature graph — so easy that the artist probably didn’t even know how. (Thank Shakun, Marcott, Annan, Hadcrut and the IPCC for doing the tricky part.) First,  guesstimate temperatures over last 20,000 years with anything at hand: tree-rings, ice bubbles, coral, fossilized tea leaves, whatever. Blend. Then stop the proxies, tack on thermometer data that was recorded in a different way with different errors and a very different response to faster temperature changes. Finally, launch that line into the future with unvalidated, skillless multivariate models that predict a fingerprint which 28 million weather balloons can’t find. Then take the models that didn’t work for the last twenty years, and run with the errors to the next century… Voila!

I took the 14,000 pixel cartoon and squeezed it to one shot that shows the curve that matters. See the error bars? Me neither.

(But who needs an uncertainty range when you have faith?)

Click to enlarge.

The secret to a good hockey-stick [...]

New Science 26: The solar fall and the delay means David Evans’ predicted global cooling could be just around the corner

We are ramping up the end of this series because we’ve been informed that both of David’s papers will be published in October — one on the error in the climate models and one on the notch delay solar theory.

There are emphatic (and ignorant) claims that David’s predictions have failed, and a flaw was found — both are wrong. After all that fuss and pointless flamewars, his prediction remains almost exactly the same as it was in 2014. It is still untested. It is a strange coincidence of timing that the theory is up for a critical trial so definitively, so soon, but there it is. The fall in solar radiation that happened in 2004 is one of the three largest in 400 years. We are waiting to see if that will have an effect, after the expected delay of one sunspot cycle. For a real scientist there is no shame in putting an idea up on the chopping block. Hypothesize, test, and observe. As David says: “If the predicted cooling does not eventuate then the notch-delay hypothesis is false.” Without real predictions, it’s not real science.

But prediction is a risky business. There are so many ways [...]

UK government cuts electric car subsidies by half, sales mysteriously fall 75%

It’s another Green market wonder story:

The government announced last year that it would extend grants for electric cars for a further two years but halved the payments to £2,500. Around 17,500 cars were registered in the first three months of the year as motorists took advantage of the grants before they were cut.

… According to Department for Transport statistics, between April and June 4,200 plug-in cars were sold – the lowest for two years.

Biofuels international


Environmental reporters seem a bit flummoxed as to how markets work.  When times are booming it’s because of “demand”.  (Don’t say the word subsidy)

Green vehicle demand revs up as UK electric car sales quadruple 

2014 saw a surge in UK green car sales due to increased choice and a demand for lower costs and higher efficiency, reports

When the sales disappear, so do mentions of buyers who want “higher efficiency”. Parliament gets the blame, though it never seemed to get the credit.

Spot the economic genius in 2015:

[Nick] Clegg said: “The extremely low running costs of these cars help drivers save money. Electric cars [...]

Big headline climate funds, all puff, no money — Red tape strangles Pacific Islands. No one cares.

Giant climate funds issue giant press releases but not much else.The pledges aren’t being kept, hardly any money is being handed out. The posterchild drowning Islands are being left dangling in danger because the forms are too complicated.

Everyone wants to save the world, but not enough to make the forms simpler: Red tape’ locking small island states out of billions in climate funds

Many small developing countries are so administratively stretched that they cannot fill in all the complex forms needed to access climate money to help them to reduce emissions and adapt to increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather.

Small Pacific Islands will drown in red tape before they drown in a rising ocean:

Although billions of dollars of climate money is theoretically available, in practice red tape and paperwork makes it is extremely hard and slow to get hold of, says the Commonwealth Secretariat, the central institution of the 53 Commonwealth countries, who are among the hardest hit by climate change.

UN priorities? What’s more important — collecting funds to save the Islands, or saving the actual islands…

Fiji’s high commissioner in London, Jitoko Tikolevu, said the process [...]

Kill the Climate Deniers is back with a new club dance album

Remember the government funded play “Kill The Deniers”? They’re back!

This time they’ve got a talkie-dance video (is it funded by the ACT government again? I don’t know). They’re launching it today in Canberra (Weds 21st). See it below — at first glance I thought David Finnigan was up to his deep game — living satire — where he pretends to mock skeptics while he’s really satirizing the Global Worriers, post modern art, and pointless government funding. It could be, but this one looks more like a therapy session. Let’s work through the pain, and pretend the artistes paid for childish drama are the victims of meanie words…

But cynically, seriously, maybe climate skeptics were the only ones who paid any attention last time, and this is just a gambit for a link from Andrew Bolt?

Note the credits:

Words by Andrew Bolt, Joanne Nova, and Bishop Hill and all the commenters

The narrative is about someone with a bag on their head who gets uncovered, does a big stretch, dances around some cardboard heads, then she stops and they put the bag back on. Plotless. (You expected a plot, you philistine?)

Andrew Bolt is [...]