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 [...]

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 [...]

New PM in Australia — Malcolm Turnbull

Despite the resounding win a mere two years ago, and achieving his main promises, Abbott has been ousted in his first term. Politics is dirtier than ever.

He was elected with a big win, but lasted just two years in office. Gillard barely made a government, needing help from two turncoats, and her legacy legislation burnt her solemn promise –  yet she held office even longer than Abbott did.

The anti Abbott, Abbott, Abbott campaign in the media has been relentless and successful.

Turnbull has said he will stick with Australia’s carbon emissions cuts (26% by 2030) but this means nothing. Firstly, the target is obscenely high, and secondly, there are so many possible ways to waste more money and give up more sovereign rights in Paris. He can sell us out to the financial houses that want carbon trading, and waste additional billions on renewable energy.

Labor, Liberal, what’s the difference?

Joy. Great news for climate bloggers in Australia. : – (

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 [...]

The Emissions Trading Scheme monster idea is back – but the conversation is booby-trapped with fake words

It’s a tax that’s “not a tax” and a “free market” that isn’t free.

Joy. An emission trading scheme (ETS) is on the agenda again in Australia. Here’s why the first priority is to clean up a crooked conversation. If we can just talk straight, the stupid will sort itself out.

The national debate is a straight faced parody — it could be a script from “Yes Minister”, except no one would believe it. Bill Shorten argues that the Labor Party can control the world’s weather with something that exactly fits the definition of a tax, yet he calls it a “free market” because apparently he has no idea what a free market really is. (What union rep would?) It’s like our opposition leader is a wannabe entrepreneur building a  Kmart that controls the clouds. Look out Batman, Billman is coming. When is a forced market a free market? When you want to be PM.

The vandals are at the gates of both English and economics, and we can’t even have a straight conversation. The Labor Party is in flat out denial of dictionary definitions — is that because they can’t read dictionaries, or because they don’t want an honest [...]

Labor wants to waste $100b to make Australian energy 50% renewable, more expensive, by 2030

The Coalition in Australia must be thrilled that Bill Shorten wants to make the next election about “climate change”. What a gift from Labor.

Just before the last election Labor had a plan to spend $60,000 dollars per person to try to change the weather by 2050. Labor lost nearly a quarter of their seats. Bill Shorten’s new election vision is to repeat the same mistakes. Like the G7 leaders, he wants symbolic and unachievable promises — only, unlike them, he’s making pie-in-the-sky, uncosted plans for 2030, not 2100. Five of the seven G7 nations are increasing their coal use. Get with the game Bill, other countries are winding schemes back and putting off the promises til long after most people alive today will be gone.

Shorten is pushing a dead dog. The sweet end of the wind and solar power deals have already been done and the numbers get uglier from here. As more and more of the grid is taken over by a massive erratic and unreliable supply, the marginal returns shrink, prices go up. The carbon “savings” falls. Full baseload back up must be maintained regardless, whirring away inefficiently on standby. The Labor Party are making [...]

Maurice Newman triggers the rabid “Conspiracy Theorist” smoke bomb. Is he teasing the hypocrites?

UPDATE: And the namecalling goes on, days later at the ABC. Who knew the words “order”, “new” and “world” are triggers for conspiracy-theory-psychoanalysis?

Yesterday Maurice Newman dared suggest that the real climate change agenda was “concentrated political authority”.  I watched his article on The Australian get quickly repeated through the SMH and many other outlets, which wouldn’t always happen. I counted down the hours until Newman was called a “conspiracy theorist” — about 18.

I expect Maurice Newman knew exactly what game he was playing today. Like tapping a knee to trigger a reflex, the words “World Government” always provokes outraged mockery and namecalling as if it were against the laws of physics rather than being the banal, obvious desire of a certain part of the population. There’s a reason there’s no hit song called “Nobody wants to rule the world”.

Was Newman baiting the gullible fans of a man-made catastrophe in order to get his message spread far and wide? If he was, it was successful. Now it’s up to us to pick up the ball and point out that hypocrisy of the sacred taboo — only a certain class are allowed to discuss “world-government” (that’s [...]

The UK Election

UPDATE: So far it’s being called a “shock victory” for conservatives, and a humiliation for Labor. See also ABC UK Election results. Farage not looking likely to win his seat.

An election to watch for those concerned that bigger bureaucracy suffocates science. Will the creeping rise of big-government  in the West stall?

The old party-landscape is quaking in a land where last year 45% of the Scottish voted for permanently not-voting at any more UK Elections. Nearly half the Scots wanted out of the Union — that’s flat out remarkable. Meanwhile,  UKIP, which got 3% of the vote in 2010, are now polling at 12%. As with most western nations the main parties have been mirror images of “left” or “more left” and voters get the choice of big or bigger government. Nigel Farage, heading UKIP,  is posing such a threat to that system, that in his own seat Labor voters are said to be thinking of voting conservative, just to keep him out. (More evidence that modern conservative parties are often just Labor-lite). Conservatives are thinking of voting against conservatives (see Delingpole below), and Labor are thinking of voting for them. What a difference a UKIP has [...]

Australian government finally gets slightly serious with CSIRO board

The Abbott government has at least grown enough backbone to not renew the Labor appointees Chairman to the CSIRO board, who have allowed scientific standards to decay so badly. It’s about time. As long as any director of CSIRO claims that “consensus” has any meaning in science, then the board is an unscientific failure.

UPDATE To clarify: There is no official policy to not reinstate people because they were appointed by Labor. But three directors/panelists say they have heard unofficially there is.  I think board members should be sacked if they don’t serve the public, not because of who appointed them. It would be a silly thing for a Minister to say. But in the case of the CSIRO, the Labor appointee appears to be a political assignment rather than a scientific one, and should have been replaced long ago. See my comment #1.1.1 for names and more details.

UPDATE #2: Bolt calls it an anti-Abbott rumour. “And a spokesman for Tony ­Abbott told The Weekend Australian there were more than 50 government agencies with boards where a person was appointed by Labor and reappointed by the current government… “

Not surprisingly, this has [...]

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 [...]