A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


The Skeptics Handbook

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The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper




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



Lo! Shark god protects us from storms, floods, heatwaves (sayth Nature & ABC)

Big news: A new endogenous forcing found for climate change — sharks. For millions of years you thought predator-prey relationships were just about big fish having dinner, but not so, they are climate forcings. Sharks cool the planet, and stop storms, floods, droughts and malaria. Crabs, on the other hand, pollute like a coal company. It’s a miracle that the planet made it through the last billion years without the EPA managing the  shark-crab numbers thing. This ABC interview inspired me to channel the spirit of neolithic science.

The dusken-shark doth smite the naughty fishies and give us nice weather

New research has found that sharks play an important role in preventing climate change, warning that overfishing and culling sharks is resulting in more carbon being released from the seafloor.

“Sharks, believe it or not, are helping to prevent climate change,” said Dr Peter Macreadie, an Australian Research Council Fellow from Deakin University and one of the paper’s authors.

Sharks: Good.  Crabs and Turtles: Bad.  Kill those turtles!

“Turtles, crabs, certain types of worms, stingrays — these animals that are overabundant to do with loss of predators used to keep their numbers in check,” [...]

Turnbull is already saying climate policies are “not set in stone”. Beware the emissions trading scheme.

It’s only been a week, and already the door is open to the emissions trading monster.  The Nationals may have got Turnbull to agree in writing last Tuesday that he would not change the Abbott policies, but writing things on paper is not enough, apparently it needs to be carved in stone.

If the member for Goldman Sachs still wants the fake “free” market solution — the one he threw away his leadership for in 2009  — he can keep the current coalition plan but use foreign credits to meet the targets. The global carbon market is the $2 Trillion dollar scheme to enrich financial houses, crooks and bureaucrats. It’s a whole fiat currency, ready-to-corrupt. The vested interests in this are knocking at every door. They’d be mad not too. But what kind of world do we want to live in? We don’t have to reward the do-nothing unproductive sector and the corrupt.

A carbon tax is a pointless waste, and the worst kind of carbon tax is a global trading scheme.

If Australians don’t want to be sold out in Paris, they need to protest now. I suggest writing to The Nationals, Libs, Nick Xenophon and media outlets.

Six [...]

Cost of bad climate models — $10 billion wasted, and $1 billion a year for Desal plants no one uses in Australia

 If only climate models worked. Until then, the insurance bills are “eyewatering” with ten billion dollars poured into Australian Desal plants that aren’t used, and which cost another billion each year to keep being not used.

Imagine if one of these states had spent a hundredth as much on research as they did on building white elephants. They could have brought in top maths-heads, engineers, physicists and modelers and developed independent climate models that used solar factors, cosmic rays, lunar factors and even neural nets. The productivity growth could be flat-out fantastic — with the right information farmers could pick the right crops, plant at the right times, and destock or restock, and not waste seed on dry ground. Town planners could manage dams, floods and droughts without turning taxpayer dollars into mushroom clouds. The CSIRO Budget is $1.2 billion (of which the taxpayer pays $780m) and BOM $360 million (taxpayer: $212m) but the real cost of strangled government science is far more.

UPDATE: The Tungun plant in QLD may be revived for 6 weeks (at great cost) soon, and theoretically “might” be used permanently from 2020.

Idle desalination plants built by Labor cost $1bn


Carbon capture, clean coal plant goes bankrupt, only $4.4b over budget

TonyfromOz explained how fatal the numbers on “carbon capture” are. (It’s like the GFC of engineering). The new coal plants cost 60% more to build and waste something like 40% of the entire energy they generate to “catch” a beneficial fertilizer and and stuff it in a small hot hole underground.

It’s hard being first, but hey, the plant is only 2 years behind and $4.4 billion over budget. Part of the costs are due to delays because of wet weather. (Apparently the climate models did not see that coming…)

Obama has set aside $6 billion since 2009 for lab research and “commercial deployment” of clean coal. In response to the abject failure he’s doing what most people do when spending other people’s money — “Despite these troubles, the White House says it will continue to support clean coal.”

News last week:

America’s First Clean Coal Plant Put Mississippi Power ‘on the Brink of Bankruptcy’

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Stephen Lacey

Last week, state regulators approved an emergency rate increase for Mississippi Power in order to keep the company afloat as it completes the increasingly-expensive Kemper plant. Mississippi Power customers will [...]

Obama spends $8m to research climate change *indoors*

How will that 1mm sea level rise affect your office?


Apparently, no one can escape the dangers of climate change. Even when you are indoors, safe from the “extreme weather events” and flooding that we are told are the result of increases in the Earth’s temperature.

The Obama Administration has awarded $8 Million in government grants to nine universities to study the impact that climate change has on indoor air quality. The EPA defends the move by claiming that climate change’s effects on indoor air pollutants that lead to asthma, as well as mold and mildew, aren’t well understood. However, as with everything negative that occurs in the world, the Obama Administration is assuming that global warming probably has something to do with it.

Not only is the climate impact on asthma not well understood, asthma isn’t understood either. So lets ask a climate model that doesn’t work to figure out future rates of a condition we don’t know the exact cause of during imaginary weather that probably won’t happen.

Really the main effect of anthropogenic climate change is not on our lungs, it’s on our wallets.

I predict man-made-climate-change means the weather will stay the [...]

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 [...]

Carbon tax and Sydney Uni economics, both slugs on the economy

Michael Harris,  Senior Fellow in the School of Economics at University of Sydney, has the impossible job of defending the monstrously ineffective carbon tax against the pointless-but-efficient “Direct Action” program. The carbon tax cost $15b, and cut emissions by 12 million tonnes. The Direct Action plan cost $660m, and is projected to save 47 million tonnes.

Having no numbers remotely on his side, Harris goes quantum semantic. Watch the leap. A tax is not a cost, only a transfer. That makes your tax bill so much easier to pay:

There is also a difference between costs to the economy, and transfers within it. The amount of revenue raised through any tax is not a cost; it is simply a transfer from one “pocket” to “another”. The money has not been destroyed, and it remains available to be spent on something.

Now it seems to me that if I buy a beer, it’s a transfer from one “pocket” to another pocket and if that money is destroyed in the process, that would be the end of the bottle shop. The world of economics rather depends on that money not being vaporised and being available for the shop owner [...]

The Climate Wars are Damaging Science

Matt Ridley has produced the shortest whole, killer summary of the sordid state of climate science, science journalism, and science associations for Quadrant magazine. This is the ideal single-chapter-length-work to bring in anyone who missed the last twenty years of clima-farce, scandal, hubris and hypocrisy.

Matt is not just summing up the way his career as a science writer has transformed, but also writing the best review of the IPA book “Climate Change: The Facts” that I have yet seen. He talks about the way science writers used to ignore the papers that didn’t impress them, and leave it up to the scientists to take them apart, but now the supposedly most esteemed scientists stay silent while abject failures not only get published in the scientific world, but get absurdly lauded in the media, and tweeted by “the President”. Formerly great scientific institutions have turned themselves inside out:

“The Royal Society once used to promise “never to give their opinion, as a body, upon any subject”. Its very motto is “nullius in verba”: take nobody’s word for it. Now it puts out catechisms of what you must believe in. “

Matt’s career, like mine, started with faith that [...]

Save the world with legislation? Three quarters of worlds emissions “limited” by red-tape and meaningless targets

Here’s a new form of climate control. Red-tape. Count the laws for the climate!

[ScienceDaily] London School of Economics (LSE)

Three-quarters of the world’s annual emissions of greenhouse gases are now limited by national targets, according to a new study published today (1 June 2015) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science.

Obviously, it’s all taken care of then, and we don’t need to do any more? We’ll just hound and hassle the last few stragglers who haven’t set a limit. But wait… despite the heart warming momentum implied there, apparently this global circle of covenants might not save the world. Oh No! Is there a chance these nations won’t deliver? The sad truth makes a brief appearance in paragraph four: The pledges are unlikely to be “consistent” (read, they’re “inadequate, empty wishes”). Red tape, it seems, will not stop heatwaves exactly, but provides atmospheric things called “confidence” and “credibility”, “opportunity” and “ambition”. But the 75% “limit” makes for a good headline.

The Grantham Research Institute speaks. Your job is to figure out what they are saying:

Lead author of the study, [...]

US Republicans vote to spend more on hard science, less on social-climatey type stuff

US Republicans have passed a bill through the House (but not the Senate yet) aiming to get back some control over the 7 billion dollar science budget. Previously the National Science Foundation (or NSF) had all the fun in dishing out the dough, but the Republicans have had enough. Their wish list includes cutting social sciences by 55%, climate science by 8%, and putting extra money into biology, computers, engineering and hard sciences. It can’t come soon enough.

Critics are howling that this will politicize science, but it’s just the opposite. Science was already politicized, and thanks in no small part to the NSF itself. This would put control of the funding back slightly closer to the voters. The NSF is almost unaccountable to the taxpayer, and if the NSF had not wasted money on so many one-sided pointless extravaganza’s (like $5m for “climate games”) and tipped so much money into “behavioural” studies, the elected members would not be knocking at their door. The NSF has only itself to blame.

Ultimately, elected representatives have to be accountable for public spending, but they like to hand over control to a committee of experts. Said committee grows on the gravy train, and [...]