JoNova

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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Australia to pay $25b to foreigners so we get better weather

In a nutshell, if the Labor Party wins (and that’s looking likely) Australia will pay $25b, maybe $35b to foreigners for paper certificates that claim to have reduced a tiny amount of beneficial gas. This is hard earned money leaving the country so that our foreign minister and PM can sit at better tables at UN Gala Dinners. The paper certificates have a long history of fraud, are often based on good intentions of Chinese or Russian businessman saying they will put out more CO2 but can stop if we pay up. It’s so stupid sometimes people even create pollution just to get paid to clean it up. They’re unauditable, worthless, and based on scientificy assertions that are also unaudited and worthless. It’s a double layered scam.

Welcome to pagan Australia, obedient fool serf for namecalling rulers of Europe, giant banks, and multinational corporations.

A witchdoctor calls PM “cave-dweller“:

This is mature policy debate in the lucky country.

Richard Ferguson, The Australian

Bill Shorten has angrily dismissed claims his carbon reduction policy could cost business $25 billion as “nonsense” and labelled Scott Morrison a “climate-denying cave dweller.”

 But wait — why’s that number wrong?

Facebook finds truth by “Groupthink” — may the deepest pockets win the info war

In a flash of insight, or possibly rank capitulation, Facebook has announced last week that it will “fight misinformation” with censorship.  Seems Facebook thinks Facebook-users are too stupid to figure out the misinformation themselves. Besides, fighting misinformation with the truth is especially hard if the misinformation is true:

Facebook crackdown on groups spreading misinformation

Barbara Ortutay and Rachel Lerman, The Australian

Facebook says it is rolling out a wide range of updates aimed at combating the spread of false and harmful information on the social media site – stepping up the company’s fight against misinformation and hate speech as it faces growing outside pressure.

 And it’s not even transparent censorship but the the most weaselly hidden kind:

The updates will limit the visibility of links…

How does Facebook define misinformation?  Wait til you hear this: Groupthink = truth?

…limit the visibility of links found to be significantly more prominent on Facebook than across the web as a whole, suggesting they may be clickbait or misleading.

So that pretty much rules out Facebook spreading the word of whistleblowers, rebels, new theories, suppressed ideas, oppressed people and anything controversial, interesting or not completely predictable. [...]

Midweek Unthreaded

We need to protect our health system from Climate-change-doctors

Doctors are at it again trying to scare people about “climate change”. But all around the world, in every study in every city humans die more from the cold than they do from the heat (and by six to 20 times more). That’s thousands of lives and it happens every single year. Don’t these doctors know anything?

Attributable fraction of deaths: Heat, cold and temperature variability together resulted in 42,414 deaths during the study period, accounting for about 6.0% of all deaths. Most of attributable deaths were due to cold (61.4%), and noticeably, contribution from temperature variability [TV] (28.0%) was greater than that from heat (10.6%). Cheng et al.

The awful truth that incompetent self-serving doctors forgot to mention was that cooler room temperatures allow viruses to survive longer, which is just one of many reasons the Flu Season is always worse in winter.

Break my heart, if “climate change” is real the only thing the docs have to worry about is whether they’ll earn less money in winter.

Here’s the headline:

 Health system needs to be protected from climate change: doctors

Here’s the real news: The health system needs to be protected from climate-change-doctors. We can’t afford [...]

Justice! Prof Peter Ridd wins on all counts against James Cook Uni

Professor Peter Ridd

Brilliant. There is still some free speech in Australia, as long as you are willing to risk your career, 12 months out of action and a huge legal case. Peter Ridd wins on all counts.

Presumably James Cook will have to reinstate him, and he is now free to talk about the failure of replication in science and how our institutions may not be trusted. How many taxpayer dollars were fritzed defending the indefensible? Will Ridd get compensation? Will JCU staff get punished or sacked for  their war against science?

Thanks to Peter for fighting on when so many would have given up, and thanks to everyone who helped fund the case!

UPDATE: In reply, the Provost of James Cook Uni says Ridd was never gagged or silenced, nor sacked for his scientific views. Which would be great if it were so. But there’s a pattern here — how many skeptical scientists do they employ? Is that zero? We all know they went to great lengths to blackball, evict, and practically erase skeptical Prof Bob Carter too. If there are any skeptical scientists left at JCU, they are probably too afraid to speak out. Which is rather [...]

Solar Power hits the death spiral vertical rise in Australia

Solar installations are rapidly accelerating in Australia, surging in the last quarter by an extraordinary 482MW. This is partly due to rapidly rising electricity costs, but in the last quarter, especially amplified by an extra $2250 subsidy in Victoria which adds to current subsidies like the SRES (RET) which already cover around half the cost of installation.

This is obviously a market destroying practice but will be hailed as evidence that solar power is “surging” due to “falling prices” and “increasing demand”. More fake news.

In the land of the Renewable-Crash-Test-Dummy we’re hitting the death spiral. Every installation costs non-solar owners more (with the tally at $200pa and rising fast) and there are fewer non-solar owners left to pay. Obviously, the whole market has to be changed to ensure that solar owners pay a fair share of networking and backup costs.

If solar power was cheap, useful or competitive, it wouldn’t need the subsidies. Instead, the nation keeps adding more useless infrastructure and wondering why the price of electricity is rising.

Solar panel installations, Australia, Graph.

Data: Australian PV Institute

The tally of solar stupidity

Solar is inefficient, wilderness destroying, money-hungry, useless, grid wrecking equipment

Without subsidies the German [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Climate change bad: causes “longer growing seasons” but blamed for allergies

It’s a disaster: More plants, more crops, more flowers!

Between 1995 and 2011, fewer freeze-free days meant 11 to 27 days added to pollen season for most of the United States, research shows. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which does an annual survey of allergy season, noticed that it’s been growing each year.

It’s a spurious correlation: quick, build a wind farm!

The number of allergy sufferers has grown, research shows. One in 10 Americans struggled with hay fever in 1970, and 3 in 10 did by 2000. Asthma, which can be made worse by exposure to pollen, has become more common too, with higher rates among kids, low-income households and African Americans.

Warming cycles have always happened, and when times are good, plants have to ramp up the competition — it’s in their genes. Allergy cycles, we can bet, probably didn’t happen so often to paleolithic people who didn’t have access to Ventolin-trees or Epipen-plants.

Could it be that what causes asthma is not more pollen, but changes to breastfeeding, pollution, glyconutrients, diets, antihistamines, histamines, Vitamin D, parasites, cleaning,  baby wipes, cesarean sections, less farming, less farm dust, less dirt, and adding preservatives, antacids and antibiotics and other [...]

In Australia Climate obedience must be 100%

Stating the bleeding obvious about climate science earns headlines

Tony Abbott merely states what no real scientist could argue with. Things are not quite as settled in climate science as people say. For this tiny deviation from the permitted line he is isolated and depicted in a headline as “questioning science” when he’s really just questioning propaganda lines.

The editors of both AAP and The Australian could have chosen a different headline: Abbott declares “we only have one planet”. But in headline-world, which is often the only line people will read, Abbott is made out to be saying something risky. Imagine, I am Spartacus, if every single conservative politician said “of course — Climate science isn’t perfect.” But almost none of them have the balls.

Abbott questions climate change science

AUSTRALIAN ASSOCIATED PRESS, The Australian

Tony Abbott has questioned the “so-called settled” science about climate change, a month after dropping his view that Australia should pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

The former prime minister insisted he was a realist when asked about his position on climate change during his election campaign launch in Manly on Friday.

“The so-called [...]

Green fans, born to be scammed. Finally, jail for a $54m fake green energy ponzi schemer

There are crooks in every field, but some fields are ripe for the picking.

If you wanted to run a scam would you a/ try to fool hard-nosed money changers in a mature industry that makes a real product or b/ pick the latest touchy feely fashionable trope and offer their fans, who are not good with cause, effect or numbers, a chance to feel great and get rich too?

From 2005 to 2009 a few US graduates straight out of college promised to turn biochar into energy and save the world as well. They raised $54m, gave $17m to the early investors and then promised 484% returns to later investors. The Clinton Foundation loved them, but they never made even a kilo of biochar. Not long after that the US SEC figured the scam out and shut them down. That was 2009. Then it only took 10 years to get one sentenced to 30 months jail.

If only the media had been more skeptical:

NBC Philadelphia:  30 months in prison for $54m Green Scam

[Amanda] Knorr co-founded a company called Mantria Corp., which with the help of a slick-talking Colorado “wealth advisor” raised millions for [...]

Landmark: First photo of a black hole (and Einstein was right)

A brief break in transmission now for the first photograph of a black hole, looking pretty much exactly as anyone would expect it to.  The photons caught in this image traveled for hundreds of years at the speed of light. Lots of “hundreds” –  burning through space for some 55 million years.

The numbers melt neurons: The supermassive black hole called M87 is 6.5 billion times bigger than our Sun. It’s bigger than the orbit of Neptune (which is circling 30 times further out from the Sun than we are). This star is 10 billion kilometers across.

Geoffrey Crew, a research scientist at Haystack Observatory commented that “With the M87 black hole being so massive, an orbiting planet would go around it within a week and be traveling at close to the speed of light.”

The black heart of Messier 87, or M87, a galaxy within the Virgo galaxy cluster, 55 million light years from Earth.

It takes a telescope roughly as big as The Earth to catch an image 20 micro-arcseconds across. Eight radio telescopes were combined across four continents and lined up on a few special days when they all had clear weather together. Each telescope took a [...]

Electric cars are already causing some grid failures in Australia

EV ownership in Australia is only 1 car in 4,000 of all our cars on the road. Yet already they are causing streets to go black, and possibly blowing transformers which need replacing “more often”:

Electric cars are already causing some grid failures

Robert Gottliebsen, The Australian

It’s a crisis that has been concealed from the vast majority of the population … The danger really came home to me when I met up with an affluent, long-time Melbourne acquaintance who lives in a street where there are six Tesla cars.  When they all try to charge their batteries at the same time, the power goes out in the street because the grid fails. Sometimes it fails when only three or four of them try to charge at the same time.

Australians only own 5,000 EV’s at present. Imagine the fun when 500,000 new EV’s hit the streets in 2030, and again in 2031, 2032,….

He talks about intermittent power causing “choppy” electron flows which make transformers hotter:

 To my horror I discovered that cities like Melbourne and Sydney are in danger of either experiencing explosions or even a complete collapse of the [...]

Midweek Unthreaded

Watch out for falling Walruses

David Attenborough thinks fossil fuels cause scores of walruses to careen off cliffs. The ABC is crying as it advertises the latest Netflix tear-jerker and WWF fundraiser.

In behind-the-scenes footage posted to YouTube by Netflix, producer and director Sophie Lanfear explained the events with tears in her eyes.

“It’s the sad reality of climate change,” she said.

“They’d be on the ice if they could be, but there’s no option but to come to land.

Actually though, it’s the sad reality of predatory polar bears

Canadian zoologist Dr Susan Crockford is all over it calling it Walrus Tragedy Porn. Apparently, the Attenborough footage is from 19 October 2017 in Ryrkaypiy, Siberia which was overrun with polar bears that terrorised the walruses.  Five thousand walruses were herded to a cliff.  Hundreds were driven over the edge to their deaths, and afterwards the polar bears feasted off McWalrus on the rocks. Apparently, it’s happened before and has nothing to do with sea ice: “We have records of walrus haulouts that are nearly a century old, including some from this part of the Arctic. The idea that walruses are being driven on shore by sea-ice [...]

Australias wannabee PM thinks electric cars get charged in 8 -10 minutes

I know commenters discussed this on the weekend, but lest anyone missed it. The man who wants half of all new cars sold in Australia to be electric thinks they can be charged in 8 -10 minutes, depending on how flat the battery is. He may be our Prime Minister in a matter of weeks.

We can see how much research and planning goes into Labor Party policy.

“How long does it take to charge it up?” Jackie O asked the alternative prime minister in an interview on the Kyle and Jackie O radio show this morning.

“Oh, it can take, umm … it depends on what your original charge is, but it can take, err, 8 to 10 minutes depend on your charge, it can take longer … ” Mr Shorten replied unconvincingly.

“Is that all?” Jackie O pressed.

“Well it depends how flat your battery is,” Mr Shorten said.

–Chris Kenny, The Australian

Shorten also says that if we do this we can start to say goodbye to “angry” summers and natural disasters ….

Audio here.

UPDATE: The myth that Shorten was right

Seeing the [...]