JoNova

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

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


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Australian Environment Conference Oct 20 2012


micropace


GoldNerds

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



Charles Koch: I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society

Who’s the Number One enemy of people who thrive on big-government dependence? Charles Koch. He’s the archetypal threat to their prestige and power. Not only does he have the money to actually fund programs to promote free markets, self reliance, and free speech, he could be a bit of a poster boy for the independent free-market way of life. There’s the danger more people might start to aspire to stand on their own two feet, to create 60,000 jobs while producing products other free citizens value. To take pride in their achievements, and to eschew hand-outs. Therefore it’s imperative that only moguls who toe the collectivist line be allowed to be seen to be “good” people.

..more government means less liberty…

Here he explains what he’s fighting for. What’s not to applaud? — Jo

Hat tip to The HockeySchtick.

 —————————————————–

Instead of welcoming free debate, collectivists engage in character assassination.

An Op-Ed in the Wall St Journal

By Charles G. Koch April 2, 2014 7:47 p.m. ET

I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that [...]

Thanks to Green schemes Queensland dumps gas for coal

Green Fairy Gods of Economic Management

Another unintended consequence of policies to control the climate. Who would have guessed? Laws aimed to disrupt the energy market, disrupted the energy market. Just like Germany, parts of Australia are now dumping expensive gas, resurrecting old coal burners, and voila: The Fairy Gods of Economics tinker — and get the opposite of what they intended.

Here’s the chain of events as best as I can figure. The greener-governments raised the cost of all electricity, but tried to slap an advantage on some forms at the expense of others. The catch is that there is just not enough alternate energy to go around.

More projects used gas, partly due to other state based green schemes like the Gas Electricity Scheme of Queensland. So gas demand rose and gas became more expensive. At the same time, those who owned gas found that export markets will pay more for gas for other uses. So it didn’t make sense to keep the gas for the power-stations here when they could sell it for a greater profit elsewhere. Meanwhile, other forces were also at play. The Green drive created a glut in fickle solar and wind power. [...]

The price of moral-vanity: A catalogue of Green economic disaster unfolds across Europe

The real cost of moral-vanity, of name-calling, poor reasoning, selecting one’s evidence, and the triumph of doing things because they “feel-good” rather than because of the cold hard numbers, is measured in the trillions. This disaster was entirely foreseeable, totally predictable, and completely unnecessary.

Thanks to Benny Peiser and The Australian, the utter folly is laid bare.

AS country after country abandons, curtails or reneges on once-generous support for renewable energy, Europe is beginning to realise that its green energy strategy is dying on the vine. Green dreams are giving way to hard economic realities.

Slowly but gradually, Europe is awakening to a green energy crisis, an economic and political debacle that is entirely self-inflicted.

The media is finally starting to do what it should have done ten years ago:

A study by British public relations consultancy CCGroup analysed 138 articles about renewables published during July last year in the five most widely circulated British national newspapers: The Sun, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, which enjoy a combined daily circulation of about 6.5 million.

“The analysis revealed a number of trends in the reporting of [...]

Global methane emissions driven by Soviet leaks, volcanoes and El Ninos, not cows

CSIRO wants to stop methane emissions: but can they get a grant to stop El Nino’s and cap volcanoes?

This type of trans-Siberian cow used to emit a lot of methane.

Tom Quirk sent me a short note to point out that the big rise in global methane almost certainly was man-made — at least up to the mid 1980′s, but in the last 20 years, the culprit for rising methane appears to be volcanoes and El Ninos. (Note the timing of the spikes in the graph below, as methane pours into the atmosphere some years, but barely changes in most other recent years).

Apparently, the man-made emissions in the 70s and 80s were largely due to leaky pipes in the Soviet Union. Natural gas was dirt cheap up til the mid 1970′s. It was so cheap the Russians didn’t bother to plug those flawed pipes. But as prices rose (and after a big nasty explosion in 1982*) they got serious, fixed the pipes and stopped a lot of the out-gassing.

Meanwhile, the Australian government is spending millions and killing camels in the hope of reducing global methane and changing the weather.

There are many graphs of atmospheric methane [...]

Australian emissions reductions target is undone by one week in China

Here’s a graph showing something about Australian, Chinese and Indian emissions (thanks to Tom Quirk). At a glance you might think we are up there with the best of them (doing our bit to fertilize the flora of the planet, and to regreen the deserts). Alas, the Australian tally (the green triangles) represents the total emissions of Australia. The lines depicting Chinese and Indian emissions just show their annual increases.

Chinese annual increases in emissions are larger than the entire Australian output. India is not too far behind.

UPDATE: TonyfromOz points out the Y-axis scale  is missing three zero’s. Data source: CDIAC (Thanks Anton).

It appears the new coal fired power stations and cars coming on line in the breakneck-evolution-of-China produced twice the emissions of the entire continent of Australia.

Remember our aim to reduce our national output by 5% or so by 2020. Thanks to the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Fund, the Remote Indigenous Energy Program, the Low Income Energy Efficiency Program, the Living Greener program, the Regional Natural Resource Management Planning, the Light Vehicle CO2 Emissions Standards, the Household Assistance Package, and not to mention another 36 programs I could have listed as well as [...]

Witchcraft on Catalyst — Scary weather is coming, it’s all our fault, be afraid!

There they go again. Last night the ABC again used taxpayer dollars to post up a slick advertisement for their favourite religion. Because Catalyst won’t read skeptical blogs, interview skeptics, or ask difficult questions, they give a false impression to any poor viewers who haven’t figured out that the presenters (in this case, Anja Taylor) are more activist than investigator.

“The gorilla in the kitchen remained invisible. Where was cause and effect?”

The Earth has had extremes of every kind of weather for 4.5 billion years. What makes the current ones any different? Any cause of warming could melt ice, raise sea-levels, shift jet streams, change cloud cover and shift evaporation rates. How do we know this warming is due to coal fired power stations? We only “know” because some climate modelers say so — but they rely on models that assume relative humidity stays constant when it doesn’t, and which are proven “unskilled” at precipitation, cloud cover and upper tropospheric temperature profiles.  The models ignore lunar effects, solar magnetic effects and millions of observations so they can blame your SUV and air-conditioner for causing droughts, storms, blizzards, and floods.

This is the modus operandi of the ancient witchdoctor. [...]

Australian skeptics outnumber believers say OECD. Globally, 63% don’t want their dollars spent on the environment…

The bottom line is that a third of people are concerned enough to be willing to act, a third say they are concerned but are only paying it lip service, and a third are openly skeptical.

What matters is that 63% of people around the world don’t want their governments to take any money from them to address environmental issues.

There is constant media spin that skeptics are a tiny fringe minority. (See Al Gore deny a third of the population. See the BBC call them mavericks and say they give too much weight to “fringe views”.) The marketeers pushing the meme know that many people are swayed away from “extreme” views and towards the dominant paradigm. Life is just “easier” if you follow the herd, so the big-scare campaign scores a free kick if the public believe that skeptics are rare. If the media reported the situation accurately, more people would be happy to sit in the “skeptical” camp as it would be perceived as equally valid.

As usual, those who believe in man-made global warming use every deceptive trick to push their policy, while skeptics simply benefit if the truth is told.

While skeptics just outnumber believers in [...]

Topher’s new video: The Forbidden History of Terrible Taxes

A video that ought to be shown to all students in every school. A concept that I don’t remember being mentioned during my education.

I like his clean uncluttered style, the snappy irreverent wit. …

Thanks Topher, and thanks to all the people who supported him to make this possible (like The Australian Taxpayers Alliance).

Note the first ever First Australian Libertarian Conference will be held in Sydney on April 6 and 7. Now that would be fun.

Send this video around

Two asteroids in one day but we spend 6000 times as much to change the climate

The two asteroids were going in opposite directions, so were not related.

While everyone was expecting and watching Asteroid 2012DA14, which missed Earth by 26,000 km (17,000 miles), another asteroid blasted through the atmosphere in Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people (mostly by shards of glass caused by the sonic boom). One estimate makes it out to be a 10 tonner (seems a bit small), traveling at 30 kilometers a second. Another astronomer, Margaret Campbell-Brown, claims ultrasound stations show it was 15m wide and around 40 tonnes. Nature quotes the same researcher talking about 15m and 7,000 tonnes. You can see we have a good grip on what happened. [UPDATE: Now it's 10,000 tons and 55 feet wide and stone. The largest object to hit in a century. WUWT. What about the ones that fell over the ocean wonders Jo? How would we know?]

It left a “contrail” and a flash that could be seen for 700km (see these videos –why are people filming while they drive?).  It only “missed” by 30 – 50 kilometers and nobody knew it was coming. How little we know. One part of it broke off and smashed into a frozen lake, leaving a 6m [...]

What Fiscal Cliff? It’s a fiscal-crack-in-the-pavement.

There is an economic crisis out there, but it isn’t the Fiscal Cliff.

The best summary of the economics I’ve seen comes from Mark Steyn.

The bipartisan Super Committee of Super Friends was supposed to find $1.2 trillion dollars of deficit reduction by last Thanksgiving, or plucky little America would wind up trussed like a turkey and carved up by “automatic sequestration.”

Sequestration sounds like castration, only more so: It would chop off everything in sight. It would be so savage in its dismemberment of poor helpless America that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that over the course of a decade the sequestration cuts would reduce the federal debt by $153 billion. Sorry, I meant to put on my Dr. Evil voice for that: ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE BILLION DOLLARS!!! Which is about what the United States government currently borrows every month. No sane person could willingly countenance brutally saving a month’s worth of debt over the course of a decade.

I suppose it’s possible to take this recurring melodrama seriously, but there’s no reason to. The problem facing the United States government is that it spends over a trillion dollars a year that it doesn’t have.

I never [...]

Doha: dead — Kyoto: kaput, but NGO’s win anyway

How is Doha going? (Where was that, again?)

The Indians have gone home, The Chinese are being told off. Nobody else is very interested, except developing nations looking for a handout. The Australians already agreed to everything whatever it is. (Great negotiation ploy by our Labor Government that.)  The EU wants to do what it’s already doing.

Mike Haseler at the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum says it’s all over, bar the shouting. Kyoto ends on December 31, and there is no treaty to replace it, and there can be no ratified treaty by Jan 1.

“Contrary to what many green NGOs are saying, the Kyoto commitment to CO2 reduction will cease effect on the 31st December. This is because the treaty requires amendments to be ratified well before they come into effect (by 3rd October). It took some 4 years for a quorum of countries to ratify Kyoto. Even if there were total agreement at Doha on any amendment (there isn’t) the earliest change to Kyoto is 2015. Without agreement the earliest if there were agreement at the end of next year is that a change to the Kyoto Commitment could come into force in 2016. “

Tory Aardvark  [...]

Most Useless Flagrant Flop of Government (MUFFOG 2012): Finalist — Victorian Desal

In a competitive field it’s going to hard to beat this.

In 2007 the Victorian Government thought it was a good idea to spend $24 billion to build a humungously big desalination plant. There was a drought on at the time, and a specialist in small dead mammals said the drought would never end.  But now Victorian households will pay up to $310 extra in water bills next year, and something like that every year for the next 28 years until it’s paid off.

Even the people running the plant say it’s too big,

Herald Sun EXCLUSIVE: THE French boss of the troubled Wonthaggi desalination plant has admitted for the first time that the plant is too big for Melbourne’s water needs.

Suez Environment chief executive Jean-Louis Chaussade told the Herald Sun the size of the plant was based on unrealistic rainfall expectations.

“The design was done to provide water to the full city of Melbourne in case of no rain during one year – which was not realistic … The details why it was 150GL per year, I don’t know,” he said.

Which bright spark believed the government paid advertising that said there will be endless droughts? Who [...]

The UN threat to internet freedom

Oh Joy and Goody. Imagine if decisions about the global internet were made by the same institution that thought the rights of the downtrodden would be best protected by Col. Muammar Gaddafi? Hands up who wants another group of people you have no control over, making decisions for you and behind closed doors?

Of course, they will tell us the new regulations are there to help us, to stop spam, keep the internet fair and open. Then sooner or later, as with all human institutions, politics and ambition will mean the power is misused.

The people who will suffer the most are those in third world dictatorships. But free speech is the thing that stops the first world from turning into the third world. It’s hard to see how we get more than one shot at this. Once the net stops being open, imagine the fun trying to get that freedom back. Think of how fast protest groups can be arranged online through Facebook and email. Then think about how hard that gets if you have no e-help? The protests favored by the establishment get the free pass. What does everyone else do? Make thousands of cold phone calls? Use [...]

Is your snout in the trough yet?

While cancer patients will have to pay more or wait longer for treatment, the Department To Fix The Weather handed out nearly 1 billion dollars in 2010-2011, some* of which was used to “educate” people about energy efficiency and the benefits of government policies.

*UPDATE: While there are a lot of “education” grants in 2012, there are some research grants going to the CSIRO (eg in 2012 at least $13m of the $40m that year was for research at CSIRO). In 2010 (the big dollar grant year) many more of the grants were for “strategies”, for IPCC matters, for universities and the CSIRO — though none of the grants I’ve seen on a random sample add up to anything like the total outgoing.)

Is this advertising by any other name? Instead of running an ALP campaign advert, they award money to groups which promote their policies and get disguised third party ads by NGOs who collect donations and are seemingly the voice of the community (what percentage of these non-profits comes voluntarily from the community and what percentage comes via forced payment from tax?).

“Do Something” picked up $800,000 to become a type of GONGO and run a [...]

Buy gold while it’s in the ground (Plus David and Jo will be in Sydney at the Gold Symposium – Monday)

UPDATED (Already)  Money is grubby thing, but financial independence means freedom. Freedom to spend time writing what a heart believes instead of what an employer demands. (Freedom to follow the most inexplicable whim — like tossing the 9-5 day to debate details of dendroclimatology with people who detest you). I wouldn’t be able to indulge in the luxury of writing this blog if it weren’t for the gold shares that keep food on the table. Next Monday David is speaking at The Gold Symposium in Sydney. (I’ll be in the audience.) Who should go? — only people who don’t want to be poor. I want to see both these independent conferences succeed (The AEF too), I want to share the word about both money and science, and I want to help independent spirits meet up. That’s why I’m giving them both a shameless plug before the article. There is a big overlap between gold and skepticism: skeptical of government science often means skeptical of government money too (see We are all Austrians now). For the pure-science readers here, it may all seem thoroughly odd, but while some will paint gold as a fatuous symbol of pointless wealth – and sometimes [...]

Government burn $70 billion a year subsidizing renewables, and wild claims of “fossil fuel subsidies” debunked

When activists protest about “fossil fuel” subsidies, it is a case of extreme-wordsmithing. Like chinese-whispers, the truth gets turned 180 degrees. It takes a string of half truths stacked in a series to come up with something which is so completely counter to reality it is meaningless.

The reality is that governments around the world are paying billions each year to prop up an industry that is inefficient, uncompetitive and unproductive. It’s money that is desperately needed in health or in real medical and scientific research.

“More than US$70 billion of support is provided by governments to renewable energy production and consumption worldwide.”

[IEA (The International Energy Agency, which promotes "green energy" in it's header)]

That’s an annual figure. And the plan seems to be even more subsidies. (I thought the plan was to make renewables competitive?)

Source: IEA Key Graphs…

Source: IEA Key Graphs

Could it be $200 billion?

This UN group has an even higher number. I don’t know exactly how they define “green stimulus” spending, perhaps it was a one-off:

[UNCTAD]

“Green government procurement will also be essential in the early stages of a transition to a green economy. In 2009, global green stimulus [...]

Did everyone miss it? Combet brags that Labor Party doesn’t care what Australian voters want

The line that everyone seems to have missed (or become numbingly inured to)  is one where Combet claims that Australians won’t be able to get rid of the carbon price even if they want to:

“(Greg Combet) said the linkage of the schemes would make it more difficult for Mr Abbott to axe the carbon price if the Coalition were elected.”   [Source: The Australian]

The spiffy idea, apparently, is that voters won’t have an option of voting to decide a major part of our economic system. The Australian Labor Party’s proud contribution to the national debate is to tell us they have deliberately crafted the legislation that way. We the voters are supposed to be impressed that it will be harder for any newly elected representatives to remove it without major penalties. If the Australian people decide to toss the current government off an electoral cliff, the current government is going to fall, but make the nation pay.  Yes, score ten points for Machiavellian behaviour, but I’m not so sure the voters will be impressed when they have to foot the bill.

Over 80% of Australian’s at the last election voted for parties that promised “no carbon tax”, [...]

Brumby’s bakery boss forced to resign over “carbon tax memo”

It was a dumb memo to write:

“Brumby’s recommended some “simple things for you all to do to find some extra sales”.

“We are doing an RRP (recommended retail price) review at present which is projected to be in line with CPI (consumer price index), but take an opportunity to make some moves in June and July, let the carbon tax take the blame, after all your costs will be going up due to it,” Mr Priest wrote.”

“It is understood the newsletter was sent to franchise owners last month.” [The West Australian]

But the outcry about it is over-the-top. It has drawn national interest, been published on the news around the country. The company has issued apologies. The outrage has been so overdone, that today managing director of Brumbies bakery’s (Deane Priest)  resigned.

The memo was dumb because it wasn’t suggesting a totally honest approach, and because it projected the wrong attitude to staff of Brumby’s, and it was especially dumb, because there is a witchhunt on for any business which blames a fraction of a cent more than they should on the carbon tax. With 300 stores across the country there was a [...]

Rio: The Political freeloaders hide — but is it their failure or their plans they don’t want you to see?

I wrote yesterday about the unprecedented way the UN was locking out anyone at Rio that was not part of an official government delegation. More than ever before, the UN is not even pretending to to serve the people of the world. Even the facade is gone. The rules have changed since Monckton, Watts Up and the internet spoiled the party at Durban.

All the heroic NGO’s have been blocked from the negotiations (as well as those evil free market libertarians). They are only there for the theatrics. The real action goes on behind closed doors, in what Monckton calls a “concrete bunker”.

 

Lord Monckton Reports From Rio, via SPPI

The global coming together is not united. It’s separate conferences for the VIP’s and the riff-raff now. There’s a tent city darkly called “The People’s Congress” — which used to be near the main plenary sessions hall, but has been moved miles away. (Who needs “The People?”).

“Then the non-government organizations have been “corralled in the filthy, soulless, crumbling Rio Centro conference center, where hundreds of armed, sharp-suited UN goons kept them determinedly away.”

“Thirdly, to symbolize the total separation of the governing class from [...]

Defining “denier”. Is it English or Newspeak?

This week Nature Climate Change published the Bain et al letter about “climate change deniers”.  How does Nature define this group? They imply that deniers deny science, but can the researchers, editors or reviewers name any peer reviewed paper with empirical evidence that the deniers deny? Surely this whole paper is not based on a name-calling assumption, a confusion about an illusory sub-species, Homo sapiens denier? Could Nature now be the Journal of UnScience? We shall see…

I have written to ask the lead researcher Dr Paul Bain:

 

Dear Dr Paul Bain,

Right now, it’s almost my life’s work to communicate the empirical evidence on anthropogenic climate change.

I can help you with your research on deniers. I have studied the mental condition of denial most carefully. There is a simple key to converting the convictions of people in this debate, and I have seen it work hundreds of times. Indeed, my own convictions that lasted 17 years were turned around in a few days. I can help you. It would be much simpler than you think.

Firstly, to save time and money we must analyze the leaders of the denial [...]