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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Surprise: Ocean acidification quite good for some shells

Wait, wait – someone made an assumption that carbon life forms would not like more carbon, and that they might not be able to adjust to a change even after surviving for 100 million years of other changes. But now researchers are surprised that some shells are not only as good in an “acidic environment” but might be even better. Indeed formanifera turned out to micromanage pH levels so that in the right spot, where they need a higher pH, they can create that. The researchers say “such an active biochemical regulation mechanism has never been found before” and wonder “what if” the majority of organisms can do this?

More carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air also acidifies the oceans. It seemed to be the logical conclusion that shellfish and corals will suffer, because chalk formation becomes more difficult in more acidic seawater. But now a group of Dutch and Japanese scientists discovered to their own surprise that some tiny unicellular shellfish make better shells in an acidic environment. This is a completely new insight.

Researchers from the NIOZ (Royal Dutch Institute for Sea Research) and JAMSTEC (Japanese Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) found in [...]

NY Times makes out climate change believers are forced to speak in hidden codes

More Fake News from the NY Times

Here’s a creative effort to sell the story that the people with billion dollar industries, all the academic positions and a sympathetic media entourage are going underground, forced to disguise their belief about “climate change”.

This is a death-throes type article, clutching for ways to pretend Global Worriers are still relevant, and to feed a fantasy that they might be the underdog.

In America’s Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying ‘Climate Change’

So while climate change is part of daily conversation, it gets disguised as something else.

“People are all talking about it, without talking about it,” said Miriam Horn, the author of a recent book on conservative Americans and the environment, “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman.” “It’s become such a charged topic that there’s a navigation people do.”

What really happened is that climate change is overused agitprop and people are tired of being beaten over the head with it. The first most compelling example the NY Times can find is a farmer called Doug Palen who talks about “carbon sequestration” in his soil (and what crop farmer wouldn’t?) Palen is painted as a “believer”:

Unthreaded Week (and what a great week it has been)


Trump to sack climate change scientists and slash EPA: Unskeptical scientists are terrified

No elected representative has done more to speed climate research up:

Donald Trump to sack climate change scientists

Myron Ebell, who led Mr Trump’s transition team at the agency, said that he expects the new President to sack at least half of the staff there. He also hopes that the organisation will have its budget cut significantly, he said.

Trump will save the state based EPA roles, but chop the federal monster which has 15,000 employees:

Ebell suggested it was reasonable to expect the president to seek a cut of about $1 billion from the EPA’s roughly $8 billion annual budget.

About half the EPA’s budget passes through to state and local governments for infrastructure projects and environmental cleanup efforts that Ebell said Trump supports.

We live in hope:

“President Trump said during the campaign that he would like to abolish the EPA, or ‘leave a little bit,”‘ Ebell said.

Not surprisingly, climate scientists are reacting with their usual calm demeanor:


The mood was understandably gloomy at the National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, [...]

Trump’s opening gambit on climate deals, plus Theresa May: Britain And US Can “Lead Together Again”

Trump is rattling the climate cages

Meanwhile Trump is putting the environmental establishment off-guard — romping, as it were, through any semblance of normal. He is not playing by the usual rules: climate change is gone from the website and the EPA have been told to freeze all grants and contracts.  As a negotiation technique, this is the hammer blow opening move. He is forcing those he wants to deal with to rewrite entirely what they expect they can get. A gambit. He is reminding them he is the boss, and that they can take nothing for granted, and that he is not afraid of them calling him names like: “a racist anti-science, flat Earth, climate denier”.

Trump rightly calculates that they have already called him all of the above, and they will continue to do so, no matter what he does.  They don’t have much ammo, he knows it, and he’s getting them to show their hand, and betting that they haven’t got much left to fire. How big are those protests going to be? Will the public really care? (His popularity might go up.)

Trump is overloading the media. By doing everything at once, immigration, the environment, the [...]

Looks like “Fake English” when a fake word wins “Word of the Year” by Macquarie Dictionary

When a word that isn’t a word wins Word of the Year prize, we know Macquarie has lost it.

Bowing to the God of Political Correctness, Macquarie Dictionary has just named “Fake News” as Word of the Year.

In real English, “Fake news” is two words, otherwise known as a phrase. Separately both words have real and easy-to-understand meanings. Together they have become the the latest meaningless slur as the mainstream media realize they are losing power and influence to the real news on blogs and in the alt-media. The old-media is  trying to stop the bleed by labeling the new media as “fake”. Instead of namecalling, the old-media could win easily if it just reported the real news.

When a word that isn’t a word wins Word of the Year prize, we know Macquarie has lost it. If any Macquarie products are on your back-to-school booklists, buy something else. Who wants to teach our kids fake English?

This is the latest attempt by wordsmiths to destroy the language honest people use. We need accurate words to slice and dice arguments of parasites, freeloaders, and self-serving fools. “News” used to mean the whole story and all the facts that [...]

Big win: Turnbull wasted billions, but now backs super critical coal, copies skeptics 5 years later

Back in 2011 Anton Lang, Tony Cox, and I wrote here about why Australia would be better off with super critical hot coal generators (which China already uses, and which even Indonesia will get before us). Not only do we get cheap reliable power, but it would be a better way to reduce our emissions (if we want to pretend to change the weather).

Now, finally, in 2017 Malcolm Turnbull is saying the same thing as the skeptics he mocked years ago. This is how the “climate meme” dies, one unacknowledged step at a time. Gradually all the skeptical positions get picked up, years later and after burning billions at the altar of “climate control”. This is a big win for skeptics, but don’t expect Turnbull or the ABC to be honest enough to say so. This marks a major turning point in the discussion about coal in Australia which has mostly never got past the “coal is dying” and the “stranded assets” inanity which implied that coal has no future and our massive coal reserves were useless instead of being our major export industry.

Last week Tony Abbott, former PM, called for stop to subsidies for wind power – [...]

If SA gets any more free energy everyone will go broke

A funny thing happens when governments put “free energy” into an electricity grid. Wind turbines force down wholesale prices, but everyone’s electricity bill goes up.

Those cheap green electrons look so seductive, but the advertising hides the effect that intermittent, unstable electricity has on the whole system.

Armada Funds Management manages $400m dollars worth of South Australian shops. Look at the price shock these small business managers are dealing with, like $1200 a month, and only one employee:

Power spike hits South Australian shopping centres

The Australian, Jan 18:

Chris Monaghan, Armada’s managing director [said]…costs for purchasing electricity for shopping centres in South Australia had increased by 87 per cent during peak times last year and 101 per cent in off-peak periods. Costs would increase again this year a further 57 per cent at peak periods and 15 per cent off-peak.

The total extra cost to landlords could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Nino Pilaia, who has been running Meats-N-More Carvery & Spuds …  His business was among those ­affected by power blackouts last year and ever-increasing energy costs. “For this little place here of about 30sq m, it is [...]

UK government blew £168m on Cancelled Carbon Capture Projects

How fast can we burn millions of dollars trying to stuff a perfectly good fertilizer down a sinkhole? This fast…

Carbon capture must rank as one of the most flagrantly ridiculous ways to spend money (even more pointless than desal). To capture and bury the CO2 of a coal fired plant we have to spend around 60% more to build every new power station and then throw away 40% the electricity it makes. (See TonyfromOz’s calculations in the link below).

Sputnik News reports on the second collapse of UK funding for Carbon Capture:

The UK Government has wasted US$123 million on a competition to develop technology that will capture carbon emissions. The project was cancelled according to a report, after the Energy Department failed to agree the long-term costs of the competition with the Treasury.

Concerns over the price to consumers led to the competitions demise, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report, which was produced by the NAO, warned that it was “currently inconceivable” that the CCS projects would be developed with government support, and that the competition costs did not achieve value for money.

This is not the first time a competition run by the government to kick-start CCS has been cancelled. In 2011, the government having spent [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Trump storms in with the businessmans approach, America is getting a bad deal…

The Morning After: This is probably the best day for sane, honest, skeptical citizens in the last 30 years. In the long climate debate, this is the most significant political event — with more potential to restore science and free speech back to their rightful place. Ain’t democracy a great thing? Those who don’t like Trump say it was “populist” and a repeat of his campaign speech. Other people say “it’s about time”.

Trump is putting together a package for his customers, and telling the competition the US won’t be giving anything away.

UPDATE: and climate change disappears from the whitehouse website. Already Trump is in control of the site and according to Jason Koebler “climate change has been deleted“. He writes: “It’s customary for to flip over to the new administration exactly at noon, but the only mention of climate on President Trump’s new website is under his “America First Energy Plan” page, in which he vows to destroy President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. A search of the website found no mention of “global warming,“…

From his inauguration speech:

“Today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party [...]

What they don’t say about “the hottest ever year” — 20 year warming trend is one third of what models predicted

Don’t mention the trend The warming in the last two decades is 0.06C/decade not 0.22C.

The hottest ever year tells us nothing about the cause of global warming, but the 20 year trend does — and the message from the trend is “the models are wrong”.

Despite the Chinese releasing gigatons of coal fired CO2 into the air,  the warming that has happened has been tiny compared to what their models predict. It is so low the Global Worriers won’t talk about the trend. Gone are the days when they would discuss degrees per decade. Meh! The same people who scoffed at skeptics for mentioning one freak season are now reduced to picking on one freak El Nino, and pumping annual tiny fractions of “record” after “record”. If the sun caused global warming (the evidence is there) we’d still be getting warm records, especially in El Nino years. What’s amazing is that after a record El Nino the world hit pretty much the same temperature as it did in 1998.

Dr David Evans has just recalculated the warming trend for the last two decades and found that the warming effect is a big six [...]

Five years after rain returns, climate modelers redo models and “predict” more, less, some, different or same rain

The same modelers were predicting drought and letting their friends nail their reputation to statements about how the dams would never fill, and Perth would be a ghost town. When Australia wasted billions on desal, they said nothing about the “extreme rain” coming. Then the endless drought broke, the rains returned, and now, years later, they’ve rejigged and tweaked their skillless models and put forward ambiguous, vague, yes-no-maybe, scare-scare-scary predictions that could have come from a tarot card reader.

Get ready for the full genius of expert modelling:

“There is no chance that rainfall in Australia will remain the same as the climate warms,” said an author of the paper UNSW Professor Steve Sherwood.

“The only way that this intensification of extreme rainfall falls at the lower end of the scale is if the continent becomes drier overall. The long and the short of it is that with 2°C of global warming Australia is stuck with either more aridity, much heavier extreme rains, or some combination of the two,” said Sherwood, from UNSW’s Climate Change Research Centre.

 – A hard rain to fall in Australia, Phys org.

Other, less astrological climate researchers have found [...]

Last minute $500 million dollar gift to UN Climate Fund from Obama

Eric Worrall notified me of Obama’s parting present to the UN Gravy Train. By handing cash to the UN he can put it beyond Trump (and the voters) control. Obama gave a billion dollars to the UN to tackle Global Warming President Barack Obama has made one final contribution to the fight against global warming on his way out the White House door. On Tuesday, Obama transferred $500 million to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, a key program set up to finance climate change adaptation and renewable energy projects in developing countries. I predict this will reduce sea levels by a factor too small for anyone to detect, even in 2100. But it’s very effective advertising for the Obama brand. Who knows what UN Department head, University, or Foundation is out there right now looking for a former US Pres?

Call me cynical, Obama may really believe he can hold back the tide, but obviously this is not what US voters just voted for. (But who cares what they want, right?)

As a form of resume-building, the gifting approach seemed to work well for Julia Gillard who donated $88million of our tax dollars and lo and behold, became Chairman of [...]

China has giant unused wind farms — thousands of spinning white elephants

Wind farm in Xinjiang viewed from the Lanxin railway. | Image by “Train to Xinjiang Provnice” (sic)

The command economy strikes again. China is touted as the renewables leader, installing a gobsmacking one third of all the worlds wind towers. But with a recent economic slowdown, when push comes to shove, coal power is used and wind farms are not.

It Can Power a Small Nation. But This Wind Farm in China Is Mostly Idle.

[NY Times] — More than 92,000 wind turbines have been built across the country, capable of generating 145 gigawatts of electricity, nearly double the capacity of wind farms in the United States. One out of every three turbines in the world is now in China, and the government is adding them at a rate of more than one per hour.

But some of its most ambitious wind projects are underused. Many are grappling with a nationwide economic slowdown that has dampened demand for electricity. Others are stymied by persistent favoritism toward the coal industry by local officials and a dearth of transmission lines to carry electricity from rural areas in the north and west to China’s fastest-growing cities.