JoNova

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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The Skeptics Handbook II

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



The Carbon Tax saga goes on: What game is Palmer playing?

Clive Palmer, the coal mining Billionaire and his three (or four) PUP Senators have voted down the Carbon Tax repeal they said they would pass. It was quite the blockbuster day in Australian politics. They supported the government move to bring on the vote at 11:45am today, then decided not to vote for the repeal bill. They hold the balance of power. The carbon tax is still law. It may get voted on again by next Thursday, but if that fails, it won’t be voted on again til August, and millions in carbon tax payments are on the line.

There are at least three version of why the bill failed (the same thing happened the day Palmer met Gore). Sky News suggests PUP wanted to change their amendments. According to News.com, Palmer says the amendments put forward by the Coalition were older ones, and not the newer ones the Coalition agreed to, and he claims the government pulled a “swifty”. In an article in The Australian,  it appears the problem was that the amendments were not circulated at 8.30 this morning. Given that Palmer has been known to feed scurrilous versions to the media, perhaps the confusion here is no [...]

Will Australia get carbon trading? The Palmer and Al Gore paradox goes on…

Palmer is offering to vote for Tony Abbott’s Direct Action Plan as long as he gets “his” Emissions Trading Scheme as well (the one he didn’t want eight weeks ago, to solve a problem he didn’t believe existed).

None of it makes sense on its face. Clive Palmer, the coal miner and die-hard unbeliever, appears to “want” an ETS, the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and direct action to reduce CO2 as well as the RET.  (And some say that Gore lost?)

Is Palmer just playing games with both the Coalition and the media, holding cards for negotiation-sake, and messing with journalist’s heads? It could be.  But until we see the fine print on the legislation (and all the other deals), we can assume the loser of the Gore-Palmer paradox was neither Gore nor Palmer, but the Australian taxpayer.

Abbott will find it hard to knock back a deal to bring in “Direct Action”, after having campaigned for so long to get it working.  Especially if the ETS is sold as a dead duck at zero dollars and only on the condition that Japan, South Korea, China, Australian and the US all start emissions trading. [...]

Obama Rule by Decree: If you like Your Lifestyle — You can keep your lifestyle…

How many people will die in order to reduce world temperatures by possibly, maybe, something a lot less than 0.05 F? Commiserations to the people of the USA.

Obama said almost nothing about climate change in the 2012 election campaign. Ain’t that the way? He can’t persuade the people to take the medicine they don’t need. Congress won’t pass it, so he’s going around the voters entirely and doing it through EPA regulations.

Rothbard and Rucker look at the toll of Obama’s EPA plan to slash CO2 emissions by a pointless 30%:

224,000 more lost jobs every year (U.S. Chamber of Commerce figures). Cost to every American household $3,400 per year (U.S. Chamber of Commerce figures).

What’s the point of electing a congress if the President rules by executive order ?

“Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., went so far as to describe it as an unconstitutional power grab.”

– Jo

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EPA’s next wave of job-killing CO2 regulations

Unleashing EPA bureaucrats on American livelihoods, living standards and liberties

David Rothbard and Craig Rucker [CFACT]

Supported by nothing but assumptions, faulty computer models and outright falsifications of what is [...]

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 [...]

The remarkable rise of UKip — tiny fringe disappearing loony skeptics win popular vote eh?

It’s a “Political Earthquake” according to the French PM. The EU and British local Elections have been marked by the smashing rise of Euroskeptics, climate skeptics, and skeptics-of-politics in general. (Monckton dares anyone to suggest a more skeptical party than UKip). UKip got 16% last time round in the European elections of 2009, this time it’s looking at something like 28%. “We’re coming for YOU, Red Ed’: Nigel Farage boasts…

Mark Steyn

Sunday’s UK election results were the first since 1910 in which a party other than Conservative or Labour came out on top in a national vote. That’s to say, Nigel Farage did something nobody from outside the two-party system has done in over a century: he won.

“Try as I might, I cannot remember a time when Britain’s various elites were as united in fury as they are now over UKIP leader Nigel Farage.. The Right and Left of the Political Class Have United Against A Common Enemy: Us”

James Delingpole

Mark Steyn‘s advice to the non-UKIP parties (which they didn’t heed):

You can’t keep calling these guys “fringe” “extremists” when they get more votes than you. So instead of shrieking about “fruitcakes” and “loonies” why not [...]

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 [...]

An Abbott fan offends with a bad joke. Gillard lies, cheats, and burns your life savings. One of these things matters.

Pre-draft Update: I wrote all this before the latest twist came. For foreign readers: gawk, supposedly in March at an Opposition fundraiser, a menu listed an insulting Julia Gillard Kentuky Fried Quail (and worse). It turns out the menu was not even used, it was an inhouse mockup. No one at the Liberal fundraiser saw it, let alone approved it. The reason I wrote at all about it was that it should never have wasted so much airtime. Like Parliament, like blogs. It is almost as if trolls are running our national debate. UPDATE #2: Worse. The resturanteur who wrote the insult turns out to be a Labor man.

How easily people are diverted.

The parody of our “national” conversation is literally reduced to a bad joke. The desperate Julia Gillard is milking a spot of tasteless humor made by a Liberal supporter, wringing all the political mileage she can get out of it. It is everywhere in the news today. A waste of bandwidth. She says a comment that Tony Abbott didn’t make, and doesn’t approve of, tell us something about the culture of the conservatives. “Join the dots” she snidely implies.

Yes, I say, [...]

Labor downgrades “Climate Dept”. Greens slam it as “symbolic retreat”

Dr Craig Emerson, Minister for Science, Weather, Inventions, Factories and Universities.

After the leadership farce last week and the resignations of the more-sensible Labor ministers, Gillard has reshuffled again and the DCC (Department of Climate Change) is disappearing into a “super ministry”. It is a sign of the times.

The P.M. has bundled the Department of Climate Change into a nightmare acronynm:

The Prime Minister used her sixth ministerial reshuffle to merge the Department of Climate Change with the Department of Industry, creating a new Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.

Is that DIICCSRTE?

Gillard has made Craig Emerson minister of nearly everything.

Gillard also appointed the former Woodside director, Gary Gray, to cabinet as mines and energy minister. The Climate Spectator is worried. Gray said something skeptical once in 1993: that the evidence linking human activity to climate change was ‘‘pop science”. Years later he apparently said he regretted the comments, but this was not enough to convince the religious that he has discovered the faith.  He made the mistake of saying there needed to be “intellectual challenge and debate”. These plain and sane words marked him as a confirmed skeptic. Only [...]

Who will be Australia’s PM tomorrow? (Answer – Gillard)

UPDATE: Rudd refused to contend. Gillard and Swan “won” uncontested. (The ALP loses.) QLD State Liberal Premier Newman calls for a federal election. “‘The country cannot afford the waste of time; the paralysis we’ve seen.’” ——————————————— It’s on. Finally.

Leadership ballot called for Labor Party at 4.30pm today. [...]

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

WA State Labor leader has it both ways: Carbon Tax bad but trading good. No. No. No.

Mark McGowan , the West Australian Labor leader hoping to win the election in March and become Premier of WA, announced that he doesn’t like the Carbon Tax. But apparently he does like emissions trading, showing that he’s as keen as anyone to help large financial institutions reap nice profits for little risk, and no benefit.

It’s an industry which deals in paper sales of an atmospheric nullity and thus, by design, prone to fraud. (See the $7b VAT tax fraud where 90% of trades in some markets were criminal). The EU emissions price is collapsing, and the scheme has made no difference to emissions in the EU. The US reduced CO2 more than the EU without a tax or a national trading scheme. In the unlikely event the scheme overcame the fraud and inefficiencies and actually reduced carbon dioxide, stopping the entire output of Australian industry and commerce would make 0.0154 degrees to global temperatures, at best, and that’s assuming the IPCC assumptions turned out to be correct despite all the evidence suggesting they are wrong.

“It’s no coincidence that the only people who argue for a free market solution are those who profit from it, or [...]

The WA Labor Opposition Leader just announced he doesn’t like the Carbon Tax

I saw on the ABC news tonight that Mark McGowan announced that he doesn’t like the Carbon Tax. He’s the West Australian state opposition leader and there are just four weeks left before the State election. Strangely I can find no story, no news headline to confirm this.

What does it matter you say…  it’s a federal issue, not a state one. But it says everything you need to know about how unpopular both Gillard and the Carbon tax are. McGowan has dodged the question repeatedly for months, but trailing in the polls, he finally chose to dump the policy, despite it making his name Mud with the Federal Government and his fellow Labor compatriots. Peter van Onselen suggested it would pick him up some votes only a few days ago.

He would be the first Labor State Leader to do so.

In May the former Labor premier Kristina Keneally says Julia Gillard should revoke or wind back the carbon tax in order to claw back public popularity.  But she’s was safely out of the action by then. On August 9th 2012, the NSW Labor leader — John Robertson told his caucus they’d never hear him support the carbon tax, [...]

Wipeout poll. Labor down 6 percent. Polls swinging wildly

In the last week, Australia was flooded or burned, Gillard called an election 9 months ahead, two of her highest ranking party members said they would quit, Gillard cut down a long serving senator to pop in her “captains pick” candidate, and one of her former party members was arrested with 150 charges to be laid. Labor is back to the polling territory it spent most of last year at — a 32% primary vote and the Greens at 9%.  But these polls are swinging wildly.

I can’t think why Gillard likes this uncertainty, and doesn’t call an election immediately…

The Australian:

The poll puts Labor’s primary support at 32 per cent – a wipeout of the six-point gain recorded between December and January – as the Coalition’s support rose four percentage points to 48 per cent in the past three weeks.

With the Greens steady on 9 per cent and “others” going from 9 per cent to 11 per cent since the poll in January, the two-party-preferred figure has the Coalition back with a huge election-winning lead of 56 per cent to 44 per cent.

Ms Gillard’s support as preferred prime minister fell four percentage points from 45 per [...]

Gillard calls election for Sept 14th 2013

From The Australian (preferences could flow quite differently in 2013)

I’ve heard rumors she might rush a March election partly because the global economy is teetering… (and the coalition obviously heard those rumors too, with the mini-campaign launch they put on the weekend). But given that the polls are fairly awful it’s not surprising she’s put it off.

But it is surprising that she announced it so far in advance. She may be staving off challenges to her leadership. As Bolt puts it: ” Her declaration is likely to pressure her party critics into rallying behind her. She also gets credit for making a decision, and ends the latest bout of criticism about her management – whether over the Nova Peris pick or the Mathieson joke embarrassment. “

Link to polls source: The Australian

Gillard calls Sept 14 election date [ABC]

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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”, [...]

Allegations about our PM raging across the internet around Australia

For the last three months emails have been burning across Australia with links to Larry Pickering. It’s a mark of the times that the ground breaking investigative research and news is breaking through the blog world, and barely touched in the mainstream media (see here and here as it starts to come out.)

All I will say is that our prime minister, Julia Gillard, strenuously denies any knowledge of illegal activities, but Larry Pickering, a well known national cartoonist,  is piecing together allegations (like extortion, misuse of union funds and money laundering) that many Australians will find very interesting: “Our prime minister is a crook” Part I (and “Is our prime minister a crook?” Part II) UPDATE: and now  Part III

UPDATE: PART IV (There are two sites to check on, especially if one is down – The Pickering Post and Larry Pickering)

For foreign readers: If the allegations pan out, this could bring down a government and one day may become a case study in the depths of systematic corruption and deceit in Western democracies. It’s a spectacle. If true, it does not get much more sordid than this. To make sense of this you’ll need to know that [...]

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 [...]

My reply to Dr Paul Bain — on rational deniers and gullible believers

UPDATE: Dr Paul Bain has replied to say that pressing work commitments mean he cannot respond to this until next week.  We look forward to that, and I will make sure it is available for readers here (should Dr Bain permit). – Jo

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Dear Dr Paul Bain,

Thank you for replying (and so promptly). I do sincerely appreciate it. Apologies for my tardiness.

I do still think I can help you with your research. Indeed, in more ways than you realize.

You describe in your  Bain et al letter in Nature, that the number of deniers is growing despite “enormous effort”. There is a policy problem. I absolutely agree. No one is having any success getting deniers to believe in anthropogenic climate change. Could it be that they don’t understand deniers at all?

Let’s go through the points in your email reply to me, then the bigger implications.

First and foremost – obviously you did not provide evidence to back up your assumption that the “existence” of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change  is real. That doesn’t mean it does not exist, but I’ll get back to this. It is the key and only real point.

Secondly, you may regret the [...]

Canberra Skeptics can join the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics party

Reader Mike passed me a note that Canberra/ ACT residents may be interested in. The Climate Sceptics party has changed its name to the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics and is working to establish a branch for the ACT elections. The party needs another 70 members by June 30th, so it can register in time for the ACT Election in October. Perhaps you know someone who can help out?

The Climate Sceptics Blog is here, the Climate Sceptics Party is here.

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