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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The Skeptics Handbook II

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GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Mass carbon emissions, yet Australian sea levels rise at similar speed as 1920 – 1950

Australia is one of the most stable land masses on the planet, and has more gauges than anywhere else in the southern hemisphere, so it’s very useful for sea-level measurements. It also had a couple of rare continuous long records “… the two longest sea-level records in the southern hemisphere, Sydney Fort Denison from 1886 and Fremantle from 1897″ .

A new paper by White et al, concludes that Australian sea level rises are similar to global measurements (so not a bad proxy for the world), and that during times when CO2 levels were much lower — like before World War II, sea levels were rising at the same speed (or possibly faster) than they are today.

A generalized additive model of Australia’s two longest records (Fremantle and Sydney) reveals the presence of both linear and non-linear long-term sea-level trends, with both records showing larger rates of rise between 1920 and 1950, relatively stable mean sea levels between 1960 and 1990 and an increased rate of rise from the early 1990s.

Does a “larger rate of rise” mean larger than today, or larger than average — I think, given the error margins, that we could only be sure it [...]

Dennis Jensen MP — Calls for audit on the BOM and CSIRO data

Dennis Jensen, M.P. in the Australian Parliament, made a formal parliamentary request for an audit of the BOM and CSIRO data handling processes.

This is an excellent request, something Australia desperately needs. Good data on the climate.

Given how important our climate is, I’m sure Tim Flannery, The Climate Council, The Australian Conversation Foundation, and The Australian Greens will join us in demanding that the BOM and CSIRO datasets are independently audited. Naturally, all of us would want to ensure our climate data is of the highest quality possible and not subject to any kinds of confirmation bias, or inexplicable adjustments. Right? And maybe its even worse than we thought, so they will want to check, yes?

Let’s leave no stone unturned in making sure we understand the threats to the Australian environment, the impact on our farms and homes, and on our National Balance Sheet! How could any Green disagree?

Dennis Jensen talks about the response he got from the BOM and the questions he did not get answered:

” … the BOM state the temperature trend prior to 1910 is unreliable. But the IPCC use data on Australia going back to 1850. So [...]

Get Headlines! How to find a heatwave in five easy steps

Heatwaves have become a publicity tool. Far from there being a clear trend in Australian heatwaves, Geoff Sherrington shows that it’s also legitimate to claim heatwaves were worse 80 – 100 years ago in Adelaide and Melbourne and things are getting better. Those officials who cherrypick their claims might be technically correct, but it’s outrageously deceitful and unscientific at the same time.

Just how hard is it to get a record heatwave? It’s so easy that if it’s summer in Australia, it’s hard not to set a record. That’s because heatwaves come in so many flavors  –  there are seven capital cities which can all have 3 day, 4 day, 5 day or 6 day heatwaves. Then there are the heatwaves over 40C, or over 38 C, or over 35C… already that makes 84 flavours of wave. If a hot spell doesn’t break one type of wave, it could easily break another. Then there is the pre-heatwave, and there would be another 84 types of heatwaves that we haven’t had, but might get, you never know. You might think I’m kidding, but pre-heatwaves get headlines already:

“More Canberra heatwaves forecast”

“A heatwave could return to Canberra next month, [...]

Forgotten: Historic hot temperatures recorded with detail and care in Adelaide

What I found most interesting about this was the skill, dedication and length of meteorological data taken in the 1800′s. When our climate is “the most important moral challenge” why is it there is so little interest in our longest and oldest data?

Who knew that one of the most meticulous and detailed temperature records in the world from the 1800′s comes from Adelaide, largely thanks to Sir Charles Todd. The West Terrace site in Adelaide was one of the best in the world at the time, and provides accurate historic temperatures from  “Australia’s first permanent weather bureau at Adelaide in 1856″. (Rainfall records even appear to go as far back as 1839.)  Lance Pidgeon went delving into the National Archives and was surprised at what he found.

If we want to understand our climate the records from the 1800′s in Adelaide are surely worth attention?

The BOM usually shows graphs like this one below starting in 1911. You might think you are looking at the complete history of Adelaide temperatures and that smoothed temperature is rising inexorably, but the historic records remain unseen. While “hottest” ever records are proclaimed in [...]

Extreme heat in 1896: Panic stricken people fled the outback on special trains as hundreds die.

Photo: Jo Nova

Post by: Lance Pidgeon with assistance from Chris Gillham and others.

It is as if history is being erased. For all that we hear about recent record-breaking climate extremes, records that are equally extreme, and sometimes even more so, are ignored.

In January 1896 a savage blast “like a furnace” stretched across Australia from east to west and lasted for weeks. The death toll reached 437 people in the eastern states. Newspaper reports showed that in Bourke the heat approached 120°F (48.9°C) on three days (1)(2)(3). The maximumun at or above 102 degrees F (38.9°C) for 24 days straight.

By Tuesday Jan 14, people were reported falling dead in the streets. Unable to sleep, people in Brewarrina walked the streets at night for hours, the thermometer recording 109F at midnight. Overnight, the temperature did not fall below 103°F. On Jan 18 in Wilcannia, five deaths were recorded in one day, the hospitals were overcrowded and reports said that “more deaths are hourly expected”. By January 24, in Bourke, many businesses had shut down (almost everything bar the hotels). Panic stricken Australians were fleeing to the hills in climate refugee trains.  As reported at the time, the government felt [...]

Climate Institute Poll finds we are all stupid, confused. Gillard must sell The Carbon Pox better!

We know the answer is always that they are smart, and that if we don’t “get their vision” they just need to explain it better.

“Australians have limited understanding of climate change, Climate Institute finds”

A new survey by the Climate Institute on attitudes to climate change shows the majority are concerned for the environment, but confusion reigns supreme.

After years of vigorous and at times toxic debate, more than 1000 people surveyed gave an amazing array of answers …. Sixty-nine per cent thought humans were causing it. But when asked to explain the Gillard Government’s carbon pricing scheme, focus groups returned blank stares.

The reality is of course that climate scientists have a limited understanding of our climate, and that most Australians are suspicious that a tax can change the weather.

Try not to throw up reading the actual report: Climate of The Nation. For starters, the low contrast colors in baby blue and penitentiary-grey-brown are designed not to be read, but to be absorbed. The layout and feel is very much the style of a baby formula brochure. Bask in the “atmosphere” as you scan, but bring out your magnifying glass if you [...]

Want climate resistant oysters, or climate “Justice”? The ARC has millions to help. But no money for skeptics.

File this under “Monopolistic Science”

Australian Taxpayer funds in 2012 are supporting around 50 projects about “climate change” or “greenhouse gases”.

One David McKnight has got $95k to study how Australian governments “spin” the news. So which cancer research project was knocked back so he could study a “hyper-adversarial” news system? And what is so bad about a competitive news system in any case? What are we aiming for — real news or better propaganda? (See my response to David McKnight in The Australian to see how confused this journalism lecturer is.)

The dollar values here are usually for three year projects. Some of these projects potentially produce press releases which are nothing more than disguised forms of government advertising for big-spending climate policies.

Jo

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Guest Post: Dr Roberto Soria, Perth

The ARC Major Grant results for 2012 were announced in Nov 2011.  Here is what Australian scientists are up to this year.

The ARC (Australian Research Council) is the main source of funding for all researchers in all fields of natural, political and social sciences. Getting a grant will make a difference between carrying on doing research and finding another job, for many researchers. Take a [...]

THAT famous email explained and the first Volunteer Global Warming Skeptic

Years before Climategate, THAT email, from Phil Jones to Warwick Hughes told us everything we needed to know about the scientific standards at the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia. THAT email was the tip of the iceberg, and below is what lay underneath the surface — the things that were said behind the scenes at the time. Geoff Sherrington has pieced together a sequence of climategate emails, his own emails, and parts of Warwick Hughes work to recreate the sequence.

And for the true skeptic-aficionados, here’s a new layer of history to the skeptical chronology. Where did this volunteer audit movement begin?

Who would have guessed that at least one skeptic, Hughes, was asking for the data Phil Jones worked with, as long ago as 1991? (That was way back in the days where people worked with hard copy print outs, and drew graphs by hand!) Does Hughes rank as volunteer Skeptic Number 1?

UPDATE: I asked Warwick, and he thinks the first unpaid skeptic was Fred Wood in 1988*.  — Jo

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Guest post by: Geoffrey H Sherrington, Scientist.

This is the longer story behind one of [...]

Labor censors Dr Dennis Jensen — denies peer reviewed science

The Labor Party claim they think science is important:

”We can’t let this debate be waylaid by people who don’t accept the science,” Ms Gillard said in May.

Yet, when Dr Dennis Jensen  wanted to table peer reviewed papers on the Parliamentary record this week, Kate Ellis refused to allow it. Jensen is the only PhD scientist in the Australian Parliament and the papers are directly relevant to the policy under discussion.

The ALP will accept  an unaudited foreign committee report, whole, without question, but not scientific evidence from an elected Australian representative.  Who are the climate science deniers? Is it the same team that calls people mindless denigrating names?

Ms Gillard said in Parliament in March that Mr Abbott should admit he was ”a climate change denier”

The Labor Party denies the science

From Dennis Jensen’s press release about the censorship:

“I approached Minister Ellis, about tabling some of the scientific evidence I was about to use in my speech”, Dr Jensen said. “The Minister refused without reason my simple request for honest and evidence based parliamentary debate.”

“It seems the Labor Party is unwilling to [...]

Giant PR machine swings into gear against the Convoy

It’s important for the big-government-dependent parties to deny the power of the Convoy.

Less than a week ago, there was a rally at Parliament House with around 3,000-5,000 people. And today there was another one, this one with around 600 vehicles according to Matt and Janet Thompson, and this one by people who have gone to extraordinary lengths, driving up to 5,000 kilometers from all corners of the country.

The convoy is a rolling protest that involved thousands of people across the nation. In Sydney, people switched their headlights on in sympathy, and Andrew Bolt records at least one witness suggesting half the cars on the road had their lights on.

Feelings and support for the convoy are widespread and running high. One of the convoy supporters from near Clermont reports: ‘In only 24 hours, we gathered 300 signatures for the petition, local beef producers had organised fuel donations of over $13,000 and the CWA had organised food and drinks for everyone on the convoy.  This support from a town of only 2000 was amazing and a testament to a united effort.’

Dale Stiller’s comment is typical on Just Grounds: The convoy has experienced nothing but support. There have been [...]

Gillard has a problem: Growing Convoy on the way — powers through North Queensland!

1,410 miles or  2,270 km to go

Fifty cars, trucks and vans, and there were at least four helicopters watching the action as the North Queensland Convoy headed through Charters Towers. Images like these will make the Labor Party break into a sweat.

These pics from the You tube of the aerial shots as the convoy went through Charters Towers.

The Convoy travels through Charters Towers

Over 100 in the convoy in the NT last night! ANNIE HESSE Katherine Times (via Carbon Sense Coalition Blog) 18 Aug, 2011 09:17 AM A Convoy of more than 100 vehicles – including road trains, campervans and utes – rolled into Katherine last night to show their support for the Convoy of no Confidence, a convoy heading to Canberra to raise a voice against recent government decisions.

Rashida Khan, who led a trail of vehicles from Darwin to Katherine yesterday, said she was on her way to Canberra to speak up for “some of the toughest people” she knows, who “have been pushed to the edge by the decision to ban live export”.

Have a look at the convoy passing through Ingham:  (H/t Val Malkus). Send in those links!

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The Convoy of no confidence is amassing towards Canberra

Something beautiful is unfolding. From all over Australia, people whose businesses and jobs are being driven into the ground by spectacular government mismanagement are gathering to drive from the corners of the continent to converge on Canberra to demand an election.

Cars, utes and semitrailers are descending on Canberra from all over the country

A large map for printing and the media CONVOY JPG (600kb) or CONVOY TIF (2.6Mb)

The productive class may not have easy rent-a-crowds for rallies and chirpy letter campaigns, but they have something that the keen teens do not — they have capital assets — in this case, assets that move.

When it’s obvious money and choices are being poured down a bottomless well, people are prepared to go that extra mile, or in this case the extra 4,000.*

It started with Mick Pattel –  a livestock transporter from North West Queensland — who suffered a 50 percent drop in business when the Federal Government banned live exports to Indonesia. According to Beef Central he declared that the time has come for a re-election. The owner/driver from Richmond, who also serves as president of the National Road Freighters Association, started planning a protest [...]

Prof Vincent Courtillot speaks with clarity

I’m traveling at the moment, in Darwin tonight. I can’t really comment on the hot-bed of climate action that Australia is right now, but instead this is something from afar that caught my eye a few days ago.

Video’s bore me usually, but I enjoyed watching Courtillot — he’s possibly the clearest, fastest, crispest speaker I’ve ever heard, and it’s all the more amazing because he speaks with an accent. Don’t misunderstand — there are no jokes, no satire, and no punch lines here, just an honest summary of the state of the current scientific play, especially with his synopsis of the cosmic ray theory. (He is a colleague of Nir Shaviv).

Usually I find speakers are too slow, but Courtillot packs the words in, without overstatement or monotony. He’s is a smart man who knows his topic well and it’s unusually obvious.

[...]

Announcing a formal request for the Auditor General to audit the Australian BOM

A team of skeptical scientists, citizens, and an Australian Senator have lodged a formal request with the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to have the BOM and CSIRO audited.

The BOM claim their adjustments are “neutral” yet Ken Stewart showed that the trend in the raw figures for our whole continent has been adjusted up by 40%. The stakes are high. Australians could have to pay something in the order of $870 million dollars thanks to the Kyoto protocol, and the first four years of the Emissions Trading Scheme was expected to cost Australian industry (and hence Australian shareholders and consumers) nearly $50 billion dollars.

Given the stakes, the Australian people deserve to know they are getting transparent, high quality data from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). The small cost of the audit is nothing in comparison with the money at stake for all Australians. We need the full explanations of why individual stations have been adjusted repeatedly and non-randomly, and why adjustments were made decades after the measurements were taken. We need an audit of surface stations. (Are Australian stations as badly manipulated and poorly sited as the US stations? Who knows?)

The SOI still rules

Who would have thought that if you knew the air pressure in Darwin and Tahiti in June, you could figure out that the start of 2011 might be a Stalingrad Winter up North and a cooler wetter summer down south (Not that people in Sydney feel all that cool right now). But the air pressure ratios are reported as the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index) and it’s the handiest thing if you like predicting global temperatures 7 months ahead. Look at that correlation.

Since June last year Bryan Leyland has been using the simple connection described by Carter, De Freitas, and  McLean in 2009 to predict up and coming temperatures.

So far, for what it’s worth, he’s right on track.

Such is the power of the stored pool of cold that is the bottom three-quarters of the Pacific Ocean. And when you look at how vast the Southern Pacific ocean is, is it any wonder it has such an influence? All that heat capacity…

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Is the Western Climate Establishment Corrupt? Part 2

The establishment barks “cherry-picking” at skeptics who claim a particular year was cold, or quiet, or less stormy, but where are the caveats when the mass media churns out record single “hot year” headlines as if they matter: 2010 is hottest year EVER!

What’s not obvious is that breaking those records depends on the data set. According to satellite data there have been no “hottest year ever” records since 1998, though as it happens, NASA doesn’t seem too keen on using data recorded from space. Go figure.

With ground stations, every single station requires hand-made “adjustments” and many stations are ignored completely. The results from ground stations are “interpreted” to cover anything from zero kilometers right up to 1200 km. I guess, only a God of Science would know which thermometer has that magic-1200-gift. Meanwhile, the satellite records are a massive collection of data recorded continuously 24/7, year after year and covering all round the globe, land and sea.

Part II of this series is about those “adjustments” and the different data sets.

– JN

Part 2: Air Temperatures

The public might not understand the science, but [...]

Australian Temperatures in cities adjusted up by 70%!?

Ken Stewart has been hard at work again, this time analyzing the Australian urban records. While he expected that the cities and towns would show a larger rise than records in the country due to the Urban Heat Island Effect, what he found was that the raw records showed only a 0.4 degree rise, less than the rural records which went from a raw 0.6 to an adjusted 0.85 (a rise of 40%). What shocked him about the urban records were the adjustments… making the trend a full 70% warmer.

The largest adjustments to the raw records are cooling ones in the middle of last century. So 50 years after the measurements were recorded, officials realized they were artificially too high? Hopefully someone who knows can explain why so many thermometers were overestimating temperatures in the first half of the 1900′s.

50 years later?

The raw Australian urban temperature records are in blue. The adjusted records in red. Note that temperatures in the middle of last century appear to be adjusted downwards. These are the annual average recordings for all 34 sites.

Remember Dr David Jones, Head of Climate Monitoring [...]

Why scientists get it wrong

David Archibalds new book

by David Archibald

David will be speaking with the Anthony Watts Tour in Australia. I’ll be buying a copy of his book.

June 1, 2010

This is a shorter version of the Quadrant Online extract.

Edited extract: “Why did so many scientists get it wrong?” from David Archibald’s book – The Past and Future of Climate:

If the data and forecasts in this book are correct, then the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO in Australia are all wrong. How can this be? Firstly, there aren’t that many scientists involved in the IPCC deliberations. The inner core is possibly twenty souls. Secondly, they were untroubled by the necessity to concoct fraudulent data to get their desired results. The only unknown question regarding the IPCC scientists is “Did they actually believe in the global warming that they were promoting?”

It turns out that they did, and possibly still do. That is shown by the Climategate emails released on 20th November, 2009. The Climategate emails are a selection of emails amongst members of [...]

Debate part 5: The planetary atmosphere and climate change

Round 5 of my debate with Andrew Glikson Dr Andrew Glikson and I have been debating the evidence first through Quadrant, and then here. Kudos to him for following this up in a polite, diligent manner. This kind of open debate is extremely rare, and I am happy to encourage it. I will post a reply in a few days. For the moment I think the many able commenters here can discuss its merits. The only thing I’ll say now is that in each of my four previous replies I ask for evidence that the models are right on the magnitude of the feedbacks. Is it half a degree or 3.5oC? Part I: AG / JN; Part II: [...]

Is there any unmassaged data out there?

This is yet another example of things that don’t add up in the world of GISS temperatures in Australia. Previously, we’ve discussed Gladstone and Darwin.

Ken Stewart has been doing some homework, and you can see all the graphs on his blog. Essentially, the Bureau of Met in Australia provides data for Mt. Isa that shows a warming trend of about 0.5 degrees of warming over a century. GISS takes this, adjusts it carefully to “homogenize urban data with rural data”, and gets an answer of 1.1 degrees. (Ironically among other things, “homogenisation” is supposed to compensate for the Urban Heat Island Effect, which would artificially inflate the trend in urban centers.)

To give you an idea of scale, the nearest station is at Cloncurry, 106km east (where a flat trend of 0.05 or so appears in the graph). But, there are other trends that are warmer in other stations. Averaging the five nearest rural stations gives about 0.6 degrees; averaging the nearest ten stations gives between 0.6 and 0.88 degrees.

Mt Isa and surrounds with temperature trends

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