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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Climate Money Paper




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Only half of meteorologists think human emissions are major cause of climate change

In 2016 67%  of meteorologists said that humans have caused most or all climate change and The Guardian headlined that there was a Growing Consensus among Meteorologists. In 2017 that fell to only 49%. The Guardian said nothing.


In 2016 29% of  meteorologists thought climate change was largely or entirely man-made, but that fell to only 15% this year.

Figure how this result fits with the idea of the overwhelming evidence and 97% consensus. Which group on the planet after climate scientists should be the second profession to “get it” — how about  meteorologists?

So either:

1. meteorologists are really stupid, or

2. meteorologists know how hard it is to predict the climate.


Climate grief group has nine step program

I nearly headlined this:  Climate grief group meets at someone’s house, Grist covers it. That’s pretty much all this program is. No one even counts to nine in this story.

Depressed about climate change? There’s a 9-step program for that.

Imagine Alcoholics Anonymous mixed with an environmental humanities course, and you’ll begin to get a sense of the “good grief” group started by Schmidt. Its goal is to help people cope with what’s been called “climate grief” — anxiety, sadness, depression, and other emotions provoked by awareness of the planet’s march toward a hotter,… future…

 What she found was that feelings of sadness and anxiety, and even literal nightmares, were common. Last year, with the help of her partner, Aimee Reau, Schmidt developed a nine-step program for building resiliency loosely modeled on AA…

But this is big:

About a dozen people attend each session and 50 subscribe to its mailings.

If I get 12 people to my house, and have 12,000 subscribers, do you think Grist will write it up?

Perhaps they have some good results?

Perhaps not:

Schmidt, who now works as an outreach coordinator at the environmental group HEAL Utah, hopes to soon [...]

Infamous Milgram experiments repeated: Only a few will stand up against authority

The Milgram Experiment. Image Wikimedia.

The chilling Milgram experiments have been replicated, and yet again, 9 out of 10 are willing to inflict electric shocks and pain on another person. In these infamous experiments the power of a white lab coat was enough to get more than half the participants (26 out of 40) to deliver a fatal shock (the participants didn’t realize the shock was faked, and the victim an actor).

This willingness to obey authority is both a great strength of humanity when authority is worthy and yet leads to the darkest abyss when it is not.

By nature, we are largely empathetic creatures: most people really don’t want to cause pain, they get quite upset themselves in the process. Yet many people will override this inbuilt ethical wiring if a person in a position of authority insist they do. It’s time we talked about ways to train people to resist. There is hope as outlined below in a different study from last year.

Conducting the Milgram experiment in Poland, psychologists show people still obey

Press Release: The title is direct, “Would you deliver an electric shock in 2015?” and the answer, according to the [...]

Cut carbon emissions by 50%? — Greens nightmare — Coal gasification may be the answer

A new MIT report suggests a better way to use coal in power-stations and potentially cut CO2 emissions by 50%. The process involves gasifying coal and producing electricity in one process at the same site. The coal only has to be heated once,  and the electricity comes from a fuel cell, not a fire — it’s a chemical reaction across a membrane.  The output is potentially much more efficient, and makes no ash. The researchers argue we could get twice as much electricity for each ton of coal burned. Currently coal fired power pulls out 30% of the chemical energy in coal, but coupling these two processes might increase it to 55-60%.

This report is based on simulations, but the separate processes are already well developed and running. The next step would be a fully functioning pilot plant to put the two together and test the idea. If there was the political will it could be done in a few years. There probably won’t be.

The Greens of course will hate the idea because the Evil-Factor of coal is near 100%.

In the eco-collectivist-world, cutting “carbon” is important, but apparently not as important as propping up a dependent lobby group [...]

Psychology and Climate Alarm: how fear and anxiety trump evidence

Across the West, there is a layer of smart-but-busy intellects who have not been involved in the climate debate. For one reason or another they’ve been too busy setting up IPO’s, doing research projects, or directing companies in perhaps technology, mining or banking, and generally being productive. It is excellent to see some of this caliber adding their brain-power and resources to the public arena. Especially so in Australia, where the debate is almost entirely bare-bones-volunteers versus billion-dollar-institutions, and where the culture of philanthropy is not well developed compared to the US.

This unusual advert was placed in The Australian today. In a normal world, investigative journalists would have already interviewed and discussed views like these, but in the hyperbolic, politicized and religious world of climate-alarm it was simpler for productive people to just get on with it, talk to their peers and make it happen.

Click to enlarge, or read the text below.

Psychology and The New Climate Alarm

Lowell Ponte’s 1975 book warns:

“Global cooling presents humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for 110,000 years. Your stake in the decisions we make concerning it is [...]

Study shows skeptics know more about climate science than believers

UPDATE Dan Kahan has replied in Comment #54.

So much for the theory that skeptics are dumb or uninformed.  Fox News reports that a new study shows that when people are quizzed about climate science, the skeptics outscored the believers.

Dan Kahan at Yale did the study on 2,000 people, but with only nine questions, so there is limited insight here, but it fits with his previous study which found people who knew more about maths and science were more likely to be skeptical.  Readers of skeptical blogs (who chose to respond to surveys and list their qualifications in comments) are likely to have hard science degrees. The world is slowly waking up to the fact that the skeptics are more knowledgeable about science.

In a proper science quiz, the gap would probably be even larger. On two of the nine questions, skeptics got the science right.  But believers “outscored” skeptics at repeating the propaganda (which shouldn’t be a question in a survey about scientific knowledge). I’d like to see all nine questions (can anyone find a preprint or the paper?)

Skeptics get science right:

One question, for instance, asked if scientists believe that warming would [...]

Climate science hopelessly politicized. Geological Society of Australia gives up on making any statement

So much for the consensus.  In 2012 The Geological Society of Australia (GSA) was one of the few associations to make a slightly skeptical position on climate. For poking their heads above the parapet they’ve had years of headache and debate, and finally have issued a statement saying they have given up entirely on putting out any statement. The debate is so furious and divisive that no position could be agreed on. (I wonder exactly how many of their members are fans of climate models? Was this the work of just a few zealous believers?) I think I’ve hardly ever met a geologist who wasn’t somewhat skeptical.

The back story is that, like most science associations, in 2009 the GSA chanted the litany. (Their 2009 statement is here). They wrote that governments should take strong action to reduce CO2 and that meant paying geologists more to do research and sit on plum advisory committees. How predictable…

1. That strong action be taken at all levels, including government, industry, and individuals to substantially reduce the current levels of greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate the likely social and environmental effects of increasing atmospheric CO2.

2. That Earth Scientists with appropriate expertise [...]

Abbott needs to be more pro-science and cut funding to models that don’t work

Look out, Australia might trim a tiny slice from the Tithe to the Gods of Weather (protest coming)

The Australian budget is in dire straits after the Rudd-Gillard years of promised surpluses but exploding arithmetic. The Commission of Audit is here to test public reaction to all the possible ways of paying off the Labor debt. Somehow, it missed the biggest cherry waiting to be plucked. We could save billions if the the Abbott Government become more rigorously scientific. Abbott should cut funding to any scientists who are using models that don’t work, and only fund ones that do.

“Abbott should cut funding to any scientists who are using models that don’t work, and only fund ones that do.”

I expect the Greens will join me in declaring that if the Abbott government cared about the environment it would immediately launch a royal commission, a real audit, or an independent investigation into the effect of carbon dioxide. Only the best science for the planet, right? All funding to environmental programs dependent on unverified research should be frozen until the audit is finished. Easy eh? Let me be PM for a day. :- )

But apparently the sacred carbon cow must not [...]

Cook’s 97% consensus is a case study of Agnotology – ignorance and misinformation

Agnotology is the study of how ignorance grows through repetition of misleading misinformation. You might never have heard of it, but it’s the perfect term for the climate science “debate”. Predictably its use began when those convinced of man-man global warming claimed fossil fuel groups were funding misinformation. But as per usual, unskeptical scientists opened a promising new front only to got burned by the evidence.

In the latest volley, from Legates et al 2013, John Cook’s “97% consensus” survey has become the case study in agnotology. Based on incorrect results, a flawed method, and a logical fallacy,  it kept key facts hidden while sloppily blending vague language into a form that is easily and actively misinterpreted. That it passed peer-review is another damning indictment of peer review.

Cook still refuses to provide about half the data, but the data that has been made public shows (after some digging) that a mere 41 papers out of 12,000 was called a 97% consensus. The trick is that Cook et al interchangeably use different definitions of consensus.

The Bait and Switch

The Bait: In the introduction Cook states that the reason for the paper is “to determine the level of scientific consensus that human [...]

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 [...]