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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A miracle? CO2 at record highs but Australia’s risk of Megafire Summer reduced

Global carbon dioxide levels hit record highs in 2020. But through incredible luck, or perhaps a Pacific La Niña event, Australia is now less likely to get massive bushfires this summer.

Looks like carbon dioxide will now cause more floods and cyclones, not fires and droughts.

It’s just physics, you know.

La Niña set to bring cooler weather, more rain and cyclones to Australia

Lisa Cox, The Guardian

The last La Niña occurred from 2010-2012 and brought widespread flooding and record rainfall. The Bom said its modelling currently suggested the latest event would be strong but would not reach the same intensity.

[Andrew] Watkins said La Niña would likely bring increased rainfall in both northern and eastern Australia and increased risk of flooding. It also raises the chance of increased cyclone activity during the tropical cyclone season, with a typical season being nine to 11 cyclones.

He said an active La Niña would also reduce the bushfire risk this season slightly, but would not eliminate it.

Dr Joelle Griggs, a climate scientist at Australian National University, reminds us that even in La Niña years sometimes early rain produces bulk grass which, if [...]

Crushing the Curve in Australia — “unknown source” covid cases trending down

Australia remains the star Lucky Country compared to overseas. Infections are low, deaths are even lower. It’s all so much better than the desperate situation in Europe and the US. These are enviable, fantastically small numbers. Politicians are afraid to say so, lest the population relax, and party too much this Easter and the “unknowns” increase. (Which might well happen).

At the moment, the trend that matters most is the daily new cases of unknown transmission and it is trending down. There is community spread, but social isolation is shrinking it. This is what “Crushing the Curve” looks like. Right now there are still asymptomatic spreaders out there, but they are infecting less than one other person each (Ro < 1), so the infection is on its way to extinguishing itself — assuming we keep up the distancing.

But these great figures are not a reason to let up on social isolation, they’re a reason to go harder. We want to achieve the Golden Holy Grail — no new infections, and business as usual with no lockdowns, no curfews and a zone of freedom.

Australia is the Lucky Country, and doing the right thing

Why is the situation so good here:

[...]

Hottest ever day in Australia — especially if you ignore history – Eg. 1896

Tuesday was Australia’s hottest day on record sayth the Bureau of Meteorology.

And perhaps it was. But look at the temperatures reported in newspapers across the country during the month of January in 1896 when people were going mad with axes, dropping dead in coaches and railway stations and birds were falling lifeless from the trees? Emergency trains were ferrying people from the country to the mountains. Panic stricken people fled the outback on special trains and the death toll was in the hundreds.

Fifty years later scientists would publish papers talking about how Australian summers had cooled since then.

How does the BOM know for sure that it was not hotter on any one of these days?  Perhaps they don’t. Wouldn’t it be more honest of the BOM to mention that? It’s not like billions of dollars depends upon it…

Seems the only time the ABC or BOM suddenly discover our historic weather records is when we get unseasonal snow or freezing cold.

See below for the links to the newspaper stories for all of these temperatures (Click to enlarge the map)

Photo: Jo Nova

The heatwave started in the West on Jan 1st and travelled [...]

Oopsie solar-battery fail? Cloud causes System Black event at Alice Springs affecting thousands

Welcome to the new complexified energy grid where a cloud can cause a system black event — knocking out power for as much as nine hours. This affected the hospital for 30 minutes and the prolonged problems caused many businesses and supermarkets to close. Alice Springs is an island microgrid servicing about 29,000 people in the centre of Australia. It was 38 degrees C yesterday when the power went out. Shame about those fridges and air conditioning units.

Alice Springs is a mini version of larger grids showing how fragile these new complicated systems of multiple generators based on weather events and batteries can be.

Looks modern, sometimes has electricity too. Alice Springs  |  Photo by Stefano, Wikimedia.

 Yesterday: Thousands impacted by Alice Springs power blackout*

Steve Vivian, ABC News

Thousands of residents in Central Australia went without power yesterday afternoon, with some experiencing blackout conditions for up to nine hours.

Electricity was cut across the Alice Springs region around 2:30pm yesterday and was not restored in some areas until 10:47pm.

Today: Inquiry called, and explanations garbled — NT Chief Minister announces review

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner told ABC Darwin [...]

Port Hedland: one man with a keen interest knows more about this site than the Bureau of Met does

If the planet was at stake you’d think the BOM would be doing this research, not unpaid volunteers.

Bill Johnston has shown again, that the BOM is apparently unaware and, perhaps most damningly, not even interested in most of the things that happened to their official thermometer sites.

Port Hedland is supposedly “one of the best” researched sites in Australia — so it is a certified ACORN site (one of the 112). The trends matter, and being remote, it influences a large area. But one man with dedication and no funding at all can find key historical maps and photos that the BOM, with its million dollar-a-day budget, cannot.  Instead of doing this hard work the BOM uses the magical homogenization process “to fix” up all the anomalies by hunting for data in sites hundreds of kilometers away that can be used to adjust the records at Port Hedland. This is the secret process that even the BOM admits it cannot describe in full to anyone outside the BOM. As Johnston says, it’s a process so bad it “should be abandoned”. There is no saving the error correction that starts with bad data, missing documents, and barely any historical research [...]

Clickbait climate records: Hot in France but snowpacked in Canada and Colorado

News today is filled with “record heat” in France — whatever, it might be the hottest since thermometers started measuring, but it’s been hotter before. Even if it’s real, it’s only a technicality because we only started records recently. At most it can only be the hottest in 130 years or so, and we know it was just as hot in medieval times, hotter 7,000 years ago, hotter 130,000 years ago, and so on, hotter for most of life on Earth.

The record heat in France is a meaningless clickbait moment in climate history that preys upon the short term human psyche. Like some collective amnesia we forget that the French Revolution was but a moment ago in geologic history. So this is the worst heatwave in Europe since … 2003? 

But is it even a real (albeit short term) record? We don’t know if French historic records were adjusted, cooled, subject to unaccounted site moves, or measured in super sensitive electronic thermometers that didn’t exist in 1896.  But we do know that when France’s top TV meteorologists wrote a skeptical book, he was sacked. If the data is being tampered with, what are the odds that any recognised French [...]

Adjusted! Another degree shaved off Darwins history — (it’s cooling so fast, in 50 years Darwin won’t even be tropical)

Graham Lloyd and Jen Marohasy scorch through the BoMs latest revision of Darwin.

On the 1st of January 1910 the maximum temperature recorded at the Darwin post office was 34.2 degrees C, then it became 33.8 C, and now it was, is, 32.8 C. (What’s the past tense of something that is now, but wasn’t then? We don’t even have grammar for this.)

Extrapolate that adjustment trend: One degree of cooling in 6 years (since the last adjustment) becomes 16 degrees cooler in a century. Darwin won’t know what hot days were!

Look what they’ve done to history Mum

The Bureau of Meteorology has no interest in the hot pre-1910 era which just gets chopped.  And even if they did include it, after they’ve adjusted it — it wouldn’t be hot anymore anyway. Remember the Federation Drought? No one else does either.

Temperature is whatever you want to make it.

Mean maximum annual temperatures as measured at the Darwin Post Office and airport shown with the new remodeled ACORN-SAT Version 2, which is the new official record for Australia.

“What the Bureau has done to the historical temperature record for Darwin is indefensible. ” — Marohasy

 

[...]

ABC Climate fiction: Life at 0.5 degrees hotter, dead plants, animals, ghost towns, jellyfish hell

The job of ABC environment reporters is not to serve the public and ask scientists hard questions about whether we can rely on their climate models that fail 98% of the time and on every scale in time and locality.

Instead their job is to be fiction writers, converting failing models into vomiting babies:

Under IPCC forecasts babies born today will be 22 when warming hits 1.5C. What will life be like?

By environment reporter Nick Kilvert

Meet Casey X. She was born in Alice Springs Hospital on October 13, 2018.

She came into the world screaming, before projectile-vomiting over the hospital floor and falling asleep.

For this the ABC gets $3 million dollars every day.

We are talking about a half degree Celsius of warming spread over 22 years. This is double the decadal rate currently shown by satellites. But even if we assume that climate models are right for the first time ever, and this dramatic change in trends occurs, it’s still only half a degree more in a world where humans live from minus 50C to plus 40C and every day temperatures vary by 10 – 20 degrees.

Alice Springs 2040, unlivable [...]

Forbidden facts and scientific papers that are erased: Thou shalt not discuss intelligence

Announcing the advent of the disappeared scientific paper:

Three days later, however, the paper had vanished. And a few days after that, a completely different paper by different authors appeared at exactly the same page of the same volume (NYJM Volume 23, p 1641+) where mine had once been.

What topic is too hot to discuss? In this case, hotter than climate — variability of intelligence. Obviously, it is an irrelevant construct, so irrelevant it must be outlawed. This debate got so ugly, half the board members of the second journal threatened not just to resign but to harass their own journal til “it died”. It’s that bad.

These institutions are sitting ducks — staffed with nice busy people who avoid conflict and who are not equipped to handle the missiles coming. Empiricism and rational debate is being replaced with bullying and censorship. See his plea at the end. To fight back against the bullies, spread the word, buy Ted Hill’s book, or subscribe to Quillette.

Quillette: Academic Activists Send a Published Paper Down the Memory Hole

Ted Hill is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Georgia Tech. He has just published a memoir PUSHING LIMITS: From West Point to Berkeley [...]

Green Druid Di Natale blames cars, rocks, & mean people, for causing Cat 2 cyclones they said would happen less

Druids at work

The voters smacked the Greens yesterday, so today the Greens smack the voters. Richard Di Natale, Green Chieftain, blames the recent spate of storms and fires for the governments failure to change the global weather.

The Australian

The Greens have blamed the federal government’s failure to address climate change for a cyclone and bushfires which have ravaged communities across Australia over the past 48 hours.

Cyclone Marcus has swept across the Northern Territory, bringing down power lines and hundreds of trees in what Chief Minister Michael Gunner described as the biggest storm to hit the Top End in 30 years.

In Tathra on the NSW South Coast, at least 70 properties have been destroyed, while thousands of hectares of farmland, livestock and 18 homes have been lost in four blazes which were started by lightning strikes across South West Victoria.

In an anti-coal speech in the Senate today, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the government had been doing “everything it can to slow this country’s transition to renewable energy”.

–Joe Kelly, Andrew Burrell

Four thousand IPCC-Chief-Gurus said cyclones will become “less frequent” but “more [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Saw this extraordinary rock in the sky five minutes ago. Had to take a photo sitting on the lawn in the dark of something, apparently, 400,000 kilometers away. I do like the way the sun illuminates the weathered texture on the edge of the light.

Last week Jaxa announced they found a lava tube cave 50m wide and 50km long, with handy walls that may contain water in rock form. (Chilled, ready for cocktails). It might be a neat home for astronauts since on the surface, the daytime temperature range is 260 degrees C, the nights last two weeks, and the air contains levitating electrostatic abrasive dust. It’s poisonous too “like asbestos”. I can’t see the Sea of Tranquility taking tourists from Barbados.

The maxi cave is in Marius Hills, which as best as I can tell is on the dark part on the right hand side. Though it’s hard to tell. For some reason, people keep posting photos of this rock upside down.

Here’s a challenge,  in the daytime, the UV index is off the charts (if it gets to 14 in Darwin, what does it get to on the lunar surface? I can’t find the forecast, [...]

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 [...]

The Conversation — cleansing skeptical thoughts — Read the banned comments here

The Fake Conversation where Bill’s informative, polite comments are removed, but the replies are left there.

Last week Bill Johnston posted a detailed, comprehensive analysis of Sydney Observatory thermometer record here that shows that most of the warming recorded there is due to buildings and freeways. But photo’s and graphs are “denier” stuff, and The Conversation is so afraid some its readers might see those historic photos they ban links to Bill’s work and joannenova.com.au. Apparently when the Bureau of Meteorology discusses “Australia’s hottest decade” it is off topic to discuss the condition of their thermometers.

Bill Johnston was happy to defend his work in comments at The Conversation, but Blair Trewin, who wrote the post itself, was entirely absent. Cory Zanoni had to close the dangerous thread. He removed scores of comments, but left replies to Bill Johnston intact. Some “conversation”.

At least 46 of Bill Johnston’s comments were deleted from Australia’s climate in 2016 – a year of two halves as El Niño unwound   and 19 deleted from Australian climate politics in 2017: a guide for the perplexed. As Bill says: They obviously want to stay perplexed; uninformed; scary-cats, without a paddle for their leaky canoe.

Some skeptics [...]

Climate change causes full dams

Last week the Maroondah Reservoir, near Melbourne, was full. Thanks to Bob Fernley-Jones for a great shot, perfect for a weekend thread:

Observations early on 7/Dec/2016 in Maroondah Reservoir Park  Photo: Bob Fernley-Jones

In 2009 things were dry, the drought was endless, and in a panic, billions were spent  on desalination plants for Victoria (not to mention for Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane). Then the rains returned, the desal plants were mothballed. In Victoria alone, up to $18 billion will continue to be spent regardless of whether any water is used.

(Amazing what a desal plant can do for water storage.   )

Water Storage

Water Storage two weeks into summer, Australia:  Melbourne  72% |    Sydney 91%  |  Canberra  98% |    Adelaide     89% |  Hobart 98%   |     Darwin 68%   |  Brisbane 75%  |    Perth  28% *

There is water overflowing from the full dam below.   As Bob says: “Not the greatest overflow it’s ever been but positive, and its only part of an interconnected system that is currently a very healthy collective.”

[...]

Life copes: The horses that adapted to massive climate change in just 800 years

In evolutionary terms, it’s a blink. Around 1200-1400AD a bunch of people bought a few domestic horses to far east freezing Siberia, where the temperature sometimes falls below -70. Somehow the horses have already become physiologically and genetically well adapted to the extreme climate. The panic-merchants would have us believe that the climate is changing “faster than evolution”, but biology and genes turn out to be amazingly flexible. (Who knows, maybe 4 million years of swinging ice ages has that effect on gene pools?)

DNA studies revealed that these horses were all derived from distant domestic horses, even though wild unrelated horses lived in the region til 5,000 years ago. This is pretty spectacular.

Dr. Ludovic Orlando: “This is truly amazing as it implies that all traits now seen in Yakutian horses are the product of very fast adaptive processes, taking place in about 800 years. This represents about a hundred generations for horses. That shows how fast evolution can go when selective pressures for survival are as strong as in the extreme environment of Yakutia.”

Analyzing the genomes shows that it’s not driven by mutations in genes as much as by changes to the regulatory [...]