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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How many things can Lord Deben get wrong?

I did a spot on the ABC Drum today. Very odd to do it from a studio where I could not see any of the panel at all, and didn’t know the etiquette of how these things work. (I know a lot more now). But I’m glad to have a chance to speak, even if it was short.

So just in case there is anyone out there thinking that Lord Deben had some good points, here’ s what I was thinking as he spoke without pausing to breathe, and here’s my reply (it would have been nice to say it on air):

Firstly, all of this presupposes that there is a reason to reduce CO2. Thousands of scientists and millions of measurements suggest not.

That aside, saying Australia is “not a special case” is to deny geography and demographics.

The UK might have the fastest growth rate in the EU but Australia’s population growth rate is two-to-three times faster than the UK.  Do those people count? Not in climate change maths. Australia’s population has grown by 38% since 1990. It’s massive and it matters.

Adding more wind power won’t help solve the [...]

Climate Change is altering the shape of the Planet (blame your car)

It’s taken five years to figure it out, but apparently climate change is even worse than the last time we thought it was worse. Who knew? Once upon a time, glaciers were at a constant perfect position. Life was paradise on Earth and all the animals were happy. But then mankind built that first planet-destroying coal powered station in 1880 and now mountains are being moved, the Earth is changing.

Or at least, that’s sort of what the press release implies. What this tale is really about is the way the media hyperbole is just another excuse to repeat The Climate Mantra even if has nothing much to do with what the paper. What were those observations again?

If Nature, the formerly esteemed journal, was half what it used to be, it would have helped young Michele Koppes keep a longer term perspective, and not lace the press release with baseless speculation. Probably she’s seen a few too many Greenpeace-BBC specials and thinks Antarctica is warming (when the satellites show it isn’t). And curiously, the part that is warming happens to be right over the edges of the tectonic plates where the volcanoes are. She might think climate models work [...]

Rent-seekers reveal awful truth: Abbott wanted to investigate BOM data, Hunt opposed “due diligence”

Imagine the crime of trying to audit the BOM?

Last year, Graham Lloyd wrote in The Australian about how the BOM had made whopping two degree adjustments to data which turned cooling trends to warming trends and instead of improving the data, it created discontinuities. The BOM’s eventual explanation lamely exclaimed that the stations “might” have moved. (And they might not, too. Who knows, but remember this is what 95% certainty looks like.) Lloyd wrote about how historical records of extreme heat at Bourke had effectively been thrown in the trash. Who cares about historical records?

In response to the embarrassment and revealing questions, Tony Abbott wanted an investigation.  But Greg Hunt, and The Dept of Environment opposed the investigation and opposed doing “due diligence”. What are they afraid of? Instead, Hunt helped the BOM set up a one-day-wonder investigation with hand-picked statisticians that wasted another nine months before admitting that the BOM methods would never be publicly available or able to be replicated.  If it can’t be replicated, it isn’t science.

The BOM’s defense is always that their mystery method is considered “best practice” by other agencies around the world — who share the same incentives to exaggerate warming, [...]

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 [...]

Big-government propaganda: ABC, BBC are “Aggressive political participants”. Sell or Split?

What to do with the public broadcasters? ABC BBC CBC (Can anyone explain public media in NZ?)

Big-government fans forcibly take funds from all citizens to support big-government propaganda by journalists who predominantly vote left or very-left (see here or here). The question is not whether or not they should do this but whether to privatize the public broadcasters, or to split them in two. I say, let’s forget the submissive plea to get one conservative commentator among a monoculture of “progressives”.  Chop the current one in half and call it what it is: pro big-government. Then set up a new counter half to match — the pro-small-government broadcaster with the same funds but new staff. (Game on — let the best team win that ratings war.) Abbott could keep ABC funding promises. ABC-L plus ABC-R equals current ABC-LL+ funding.

Obviously, true free-market libertarians want public broadcasters 100% sold — their incentives are always going to run counter to unbiased reporting and the hunt for the truth. On the other hand, among the populace, the ground is not remotely laid for a big-sell. Many voters remain blind to the bias, and have no idea how filtered the half-truths are: [...]

The Guardian-the-gullible: blind to whistleblowers, ignoring scandals, defender of feel-good teenage thinking

In years to come when people wonder how so much money came to be wasted in a frivolous attempt to stop the storms, people will marvel at the failure of parts of the free press. The Guardian will rise above that pack, standing out as the one that dressed itself in the color of gullible.

There are more than 31,000 whistleblowers inside science, 9,000 with PhD’s, 2 with Nobel Physics prizes, and 3 men who walked on the moon. There are meteorologists who won prizes in Meteorology, and physicists who studied with the greats — and they’re warning that the science is not settled, but the journalists at The Guardian know better.

Instead of asking hard questions of both skeptics and believers, the writers saw the passion and energy of namecalling activists and were swept off their feet to join the march. Now they dish out their infinite wisdom on science, on national policy and finance. If only the rest of us could be as genius and kind as Alan Rusbridger, eh?

But what are the Guardian guarding these days? They want to silence skeptics, and push a committee consensus. It isn’t free speech, and it isn’t science. If there [...]

Banks *really* want to save the world. Citigroup commits $100 billion to “climate change”. Media loves it.

The wall of money is enormous, and the media oblivious to the real flow from taxpayers to corporate welfare freeloaders.

The wall of money, part 23

Citigroup promised to spend, invest and loan $50 billion in 2007 and found it so easy, it managed to do it by 2013, three years ahead of schedule. This month it promised to send another $100 billion more towards “sustainability”.

How much of this is about being a green corporate citizen? Not much apparently. Citigroup are making the Citigroup buildings energy efficient, but what they didn’t say was whether they would stop investing in or taking money and profits from their fossil fuel customers. As it happens Citigroup might Big-Green, but they are also Big-Ungreen too, they were one of  “the top providers of funding for the most damaging practices of the U.S. coal industry last year. “  Not that any journalist mentioned that when they repeated the press release.

The banks can sniff out a good subsidy — it’s money for jam, and they are happy to feed the machine that feeds them.

Easy money for “sustainability” will also generate thousands of scary press releases from each and every sub-project as they [...]

Disaster. Australian cyclone season is quiet! We have to stop that!

Get ready:

“Australia records its third quietest start to the cyclone season in 50 years.” ABC news, Jack Kerr

Bravo, I thought. ABC covers a good-weather story… but no, lo, for the climate oracles tell us this is ominous and bigger nastier storms are coming. Be afraid!

This weather is weird?

There have only been four occasions since the mid-1960s when cyclones haven’t crossed the mainland before February.

Only four. Golly! This year is almost as “bad”as the worst of the prehistoric era, i.e. ’68, ’80, ’88).

It’s not like the good ol’ days  — when people used to get decent cyclones all the time:

Back in 1870, when Cairns started life as a gold port, four to five severe cyclones would hit the Queensland east coast every decade. By 2010, that average was down to less than two.

Lucky them.

To see the effect of man-made global warming, look hard at this graph below.  Spot the… trend.

A high bar means a long slow quiet start to the cyclone season.

At the start in 1964 CO2 was a wonderful 320ppm. Now it is at 400ppm and obviously (when seen through a computer [...]

Maurice Newman: conservatives outsmarted — they apologise where they should demand apologies

A wake up call from Maurice Newman. The gravy train of bigger and bigger government is grinding to its inevitable halt, and Greece is the destination the Western Express is headed for. Those who promised that big-government could solve everything have bought votes, while using schools and universities to train a generation to hate free market competition. Young people were raised to blame the system and demand the handout, rather than take responsibility. The soft-west has gone too far left. The weak right has rolled over and tries to be a mini-left, settling for being the team B of “progressivism”. Newman’s best line is that the conservatives apologize where they should demand apologies. So true.

To illustrate dismal standards in science and the media, Newman cites (thanks Maurice), and thousands more Australians find out a small part of the scandalous failure of academia (specifically, Lewandowsky at UWA) and the ABC. The stories he refers too are: “Lewandowsky peer reviewed study includes someone 32,757 years old” and the “ABC got it wrong, BOM not concerned with Australian public being misinformed“. Ken Stewart at Kenskingdom deserves credit for catching out the ABC and BOM. Readers, when you want to throw your shoe [...]

The Green Blob expands: BBC wants Australian ratings. Their editor Wendy Frew heats Aust by 90C.

What’s better than Pravda? When Pravda is controlled by big government but masquerades as “commercial” and, even better, when it competes with and sucks money from independent competitors–making it harder for journalists who do ask the government hard questions to be heard at all.

Who needs the ABC?  The BBC has arrived to provide the propaganda for free and wants to compete with commercial news outlets. They’ve appointed the most gullible journalists they could find (who’ll believe any official edict). Their new Australian Editor, Wendy Frew, accidentally revealed that while she’s good at rearranging a press release and calling it news, she is not too good with numbers.

In a BBC article yesterday by Wendy Frew titled “Australia has hottest spring on record as temperatures soar” comes the extraordinary news that Australia has warmed by 90C since 1910.

“Australia has been warming up by about 0.9C [a year] since 1910,” Dr Braganza told the BBC.

The online article was fixed this morning (with no mention of the mistake), though copies of the error appear elsewhere. It says something that Frew went out of her way to add “[a year]“ into Braganza’s quote without doing the numbers and [...]