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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Antarctic scientists may find climate Holy Grail, ice with magic 7 digit age

ABC news tells us intrepid researchers are in a race for the sacred key. The news is a sexed up advert for climate funding done in the theme of Raiders of the Lost Ice:

“It’s the “holy grail of climate science”, a piece of ice so old that it might be able to reveal the climate of the past and help predict the future of Earth’s atmosphere.

And Australia’s Antarctic scientists are now part of an international race to find the ancient time capsule.

So, what is it?

Somewhere deep below the surface of Antarctica, ice has laid untouched for a million years or more — it’s believed to be the world’s oldest ice“

I don’t know why scientists think the million year mark is so holy, they’ve pretty much ignored the message in the first 800,000 years. They hunted and drilled but the telex from prehistory kept saying temperature controls CO2, not the other way around.

Either CO2 followed the temp, or CO2 stayed high, but temp did its own thing. (See the spot from circa 130,000BC, for about 15,000 years? CO2 was at “record highs” unseen for 120,000 years, but that didn’t stop [...]

Rex Tillerson — would have profited from anti-carbon schemes but stood against them

At the moment Rex Tillerson is the hot favourite for Secretary of State. He runs the worlds largest oil and gas company, Exxon, which is also the ninth largest company in the world, and has had a near perfect credit rating since, ooo, the Great Depression. Not too shabby at negotiating deals then?

As a mark of his character, consider that while Tillerson ran Exxon, the company was one of the only ones that donated money to skeptics* — yet Exxon is an oil and gas company, not a coal miner — so it would profit from anti-carbon schemes that it was exposing. Big-Gas benefits from anti-coal rules, because coal is so cheap. For all the talk of “fossil fuels funding skeptics” all the other Big Gas majors like BP and Shell have ridden the green wave, picking up government subsidies, lobbying for carbon trading and wind farms (which need gas backup).

So if Tillerson wanted to take the easy road, he would never have funded skeptics.  He’s been on the “top-ten” enemy-list for the EcoWorriers for having actually given some money to skeptics (a tiny fraction of what Exxon gave to renewables, but a sin of the first order [...]

If only “free energy” was free. UK Govt spending £319bn on quest to change future weather

(More at the Daily Mail)

UPDATE: Full GWPF report (PDF) A bargain at half the price

The geniuses in the UK government decided to take £10,800 from every UK household to cool the world by a figure which, rounded to the nearest tenth of a degree, is 0.0 degrees C a century from now.

The Daily Mail:

Hot air: Bombshell report shows green levies backed by government will cost the economy £319bn by 2030 The radical shift to green, renewable energy will have cost £319bn by 2030 The huge sum is three times the annual NHS budget for England The policy will be adding an average burden of £584 a year to every household by 2020 and £875 by 2030 Shocking report takes its calculations from official figures issued by government

The real cost to poorer families paying vastly higher electricity bills might be measured in terms of people choosing second best health options, putting off treatments, foregone holidays, going cold, and for some on the brink, perhaps divorce or worse. (It’s hard to imagine how forcing people to do £10k of pointless work will improve mental health stats).  If the UK government came knocking at doors asking for [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Prof Peter Ridd, bleaching is not new, like coral spawning, we just discovered it the 1980s

Coral spawning is visible from the air  | Vimeo Biopixel

From the Bolt Report, Professor Peter Ridd points out how little we know about the history of bleaching of corals. Corals have been around for 200 million years, but we only discovered coral bleaching and coral spawning in the 1980s, even though the synchronized slicks are so vast they are visible in satellite shots. When discussing whether the Great Barrier Reef going to die he says “everything that I look at says the opposite”.

Professor Peter Ridd (James Cook Uni)

“Terry Hughes is on record as saying Bleaching is a new phenomena — it never happened before the 1980s. It is an absurdity   –we just discovered it to science in the 1980s.

There is another thing the reef does that is equally spectacular — and that’s coral spawning  — three days after the full moon  in November every year the whole barrier reef, every coral virtually, releases egg bundles that float to the surface and from the air we can see these massive slicks of coral spawn on the surface. It’s incredible. we only discovered that in 1982.

Are we really suggesting [...]

South Australia: blackout costs $367m, normal electricity twice the price, reserve shortfalls coming in January

Comforting to know that hundreds of millions were saved because the SA blackout hit at 4pm:

Today in SA: blackout cost $367m but could have been worse

The results of a comprehensive survey of Business SA members of the impact of the September 28 blackout released today also found many did not have business interruption insurance and, of those who did, more than half were not covered for losses resulting from the outage.

The overall financial impact on South Australia was a loss of $367m but, in occurring late in the trading day, the effect of the blackout was lower than it would have been if it had happened first thing in the morning.

“Considering 70 per cent of respondents had power restored within 24 hours we are looking at a cost of close to $120,000 per minute for business in the state,” the report found. –The Australian

Only 12% of businesses surveyed had backup generators.

Who wants electricity at twice the price? Judith Sloan:

The Australian Energy Market Operator says average electricity prices in South Australia next year will be 1.7 times higher than in NSW and 2.4 times higher than [...]

Apocalypse On. Trump appoints climate denier in charge of EPA. “Threatens planet!” like Nazi, ISIS, arsonist.

It’s an eco-Worriers nightmare. Donald Trump appointed the man who’s been suing the EPA as its new chief. Scott Pruitt   The Oklahoma Attorney General has been a leading figure in working to stop Obama’s EPA’s Clean Power Plan, an executive order that tried to circumvent Congress.

Trump heard Al Gore’s best arguments on Monday and acted accordingly.

Pruitt obviously knows the worst flaws of the EPA and in detail. He might even be able to get the EPA to tackle real environmental problems instead of fake ones. Who could be better? (Marc Morano, Nigel Farage? Hard to say).

Donald Trump will name Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, an ardent opponent of President Barack Obama’s measures to curb climate change, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a Trump transition team official said on Wednesday, a choice that enraged green activists and cheered the oil industry.

Trump’s choice of Pruitt fits neatly with the Republican president-elect’s promise to cut back the EPA and free up drilling and coal mining, and signals the likely rollback of much of Obama’s environmental agenda.

Since becoming the top prosecutor for the major oil- and gas-producing state in 2011, Pruitt, [...]

Turnbull government tests out “carbon price” on electricity. It bombs, then gets retracted.

It started on Monday on ABC AM when energy minister Josh Frydenberg was asked about the review about climate policies.

If you listen to the full AM program from 9 – 10:30mins he absolutely rules out an economy wide approach, but when asked about an electricity sector “emissions intensity scheme” he does say “wait and see”. Was it a bizarre slip of the tongue, or was he fishing to find out the strength of the opposition to bringing in a carbon price on electricity?

9 mins: He is asked about an energy “emission intensity scheme”.

Josh rejects any “economy wide approach”.  “”What this review has indicated is we will look at a sector-by-sector approach. The electricity sector is the one which produces the most emissions — around a third of Australia’s emissions come from that sector.”


Frydenberg: We know that a large number of bodies have recommended an emissions intensity scheme a baseline and credit scheme.

Any chance of that happening?

 10 minutes  Frydenberg   “Wait and see… we want to hear from the experts on the lowest cost of abatement… thats what we owe the Australian households [...]

Coldest decade in Europe: 1430s — so cold people melted wine to drink, climate models have no idea why

Historic documents warn us that cold times bring death, starvation, disease. Winters were long, the crops failed, trade patterns and prices changed. Rivers froze over in Europe. The detail in this paper is fascinating. The world’s expert climate models (that’ll be NASA GISS, NCAR] don’t know what caused that extreme cold and can’t model it. If something like this were coming in the near future, they couldn’t predict it. Apparently it was due to “natural variation” which is scientific code for “we don’t know”. But the paper discusses the Spörer Minimum (SPM) in depth, and admits they don’t understand the mechanism of solar forcing which may include solar UV, or energetic particle flows. The SPM lasted from 1421 – 1550. They pretty much rule out volcanoes as the cause because the big ones in that era went off in 1453 and 1458.

Figure 2. Individual paleoclimate reconstructions for summer temperature, winter temperature and summer precipitation. Left: dots are specific sites considered by the different authors (listed from 1 to 16; Table 1). Right: decadal-scale (10-year mean) summer temperature, winter temperature and summer precipitation for the 16 climate reconstructions, standardised with reference to the period 1300–1700 (datasets 6, 11 and [...]

Big-government takes another hit: Brexit factor strikes Italy

More news that the little people are fed up. A big 70% of Italy’s voters turned out to turn down the referendum. The Italian PM will resign. Like Brexit and Trump, the opinion polls got it wrong underestimated the size of the “No” vote, predicting the No win with a 6% gap, which ended up being a 19% for Italians in Italy. (Italians living overseas voted very differently — 65%  for Yes). The proposal was to reduce the power of the Senate and of the regional governments. The Euro has dipped.

The global anti-establishment backlash has claimed another scalp in a result that will send shockwaves through financial markets and European capitals today.

Opposition was spearheaded by Beppe Grillo, a comedian and Eurosceptic founder of the populist Five Star Movement. He accused Mr Renzi of trying to wreck Italy’s system of checks and balances to push through laws favouring big business.

Renzi was elected as an anti-establishment man, but clearly wasn’t that at all:

Renzi, 41, took office in 2014 promising to shake up hidebound Italy and presenting himself as an anti-establishment “demolition man” determined to crash through a smothering bureaucracy and redraw the [...]

More blackout damage — Alcoa smelter to run at just 27% capacity for up to six months

The fallout from the small blackout last week will cost jobs and reduce production for months to come. In Victoria, the Alcoa smelter in Portland was hit at the same time as 200,000 customers in South Australia. But the short power outage meant that hot metal turned solid at the smelter, damaging equipment. One potline is totally shut down, the other hobbles along.

Manager of Portland Aluminium, Peter Chellis, said crews had been working tirelessly to stabilise the plant since it was taken offline.

“Obviously a long power interruption freezes the metal, and when you bring the power back on that creates what we call ‘burn offs’,” he said. “So we’ve been taking the pots that can’t be fixed out of circuit, and at this point in time line two is looking quite stable.”

He said the smelter was operating at just 27 per cent of its capacity. “At the moment we haven’t started to work on any scenario other than stabilising the plant,” he said. “But I think in three to six months we can turn around lines one and two.”

 – Source: Alcoa smelter to run at 27% [...]

Green leader South Australia gets energy security the diesel way

Probably not what Senator Hansen-Young had in mind for South Australia:

SA irrigators, farmers turn to generators for electricity stability

By Lauren Waldhuter

Irrigators and farmers are buying diesel generators to secure their power supply, as price and stability issues continue to plague South Australia’s energy grid, industry experts have said.

Susie Green, head of the state’s apple and pear grower and cherry grower associations, said some farmers were now investing in generators for stability. “More and more I’m hearing that people are looking at forms of back-up generation for irrigation pumps and all different systems around their orchards,” she said.  — ABC

One more cost to add to the price of wind and solar powered electrons. It’s not just the cost of a blackout, it’s the dollar volatility too. As the spot price soared to $13,000 MWh power companies tell irrigators to turn off their pumps.

How much capital is tied up in fuel and generators that are bought as insurance against government mandated grid failures which are themselves the  price of “insurance” against the weather changing.

h/t David B

Weekend Unthreaded

Wikileaks shows climate researchers targeted to be silenced

Emails released by wikileaks show that Roger Pielke was the target of an organized political effort to stop him speaking on climate issues. Remember, Pielke is largely an IPCC type guy — supporting most of their consensus including even carbon trading. Yet straying a tiny bit from the approved line made him a major threat — the IPCC message is a whole package and a flaw in any part of it could unravel the whole kit and caboodle.

Roger Pielke was surprised to find his name in the Podesta emails:

“The multi-year campaign against me by CAP was partially funded by billionaire Tom Steyer, and involved 7 writers at CAP who collectively wrote more than 160 articles about me, trashing my work and my reputation. Over the years, several of those writers moved on to new venues, including The Guardian, Vox and where they continued their campaign focused on creating an evil, cartoon version of me and my research.”

Collectively, they were quite successful. The campaign ultimately led to me being investigated by a member of Congress and pushed out of the field.

That story has been told in the Wall Street Journal today:

My [...]

In brave PR move Kelloggs cancels Breitbart advertising and calls millions of its own customers “bigots”

It’s a novel marketing ploy to reach all the people who buy their breakfast cereals according to where they don’t advertise. It’s bound to appeal to at least three or four people, but at the risk of offending half the population.

I suspect that not too many kids plague mom and dad to buy Fruit Loops because it doesn’t support the evil Breitbart news outlet. (That’s the same one whose leading editor was so disconnected from the cereal-buying-masses that he backed the winning candidate for leader of the free world, and got a job as his right hand man. A media group on “the fringe”, eh?)

Politics is the new religion. What else explains this this latest marketing disaster, which will appeal to all the people who buy Wheeties because it’s a Democrat cereal. Investors are running. Kelloggs stocks dropped another 1.4% today.

It started when Kelloggs announced it wouldn’t advertise on Breitbart because of “values”:

Kellogg on Tuesday said it would pull its ads from Breitbart News after consumers notified the manufacturer that its products were appearing on the [...]