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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GoldNerds

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



The heat is on. Bureau of Meteorology ‘altering climate figures’ — The Australian

Congratulations to The Australian again for taking the hard road and reporting controversial, hot, documented problems, that few in the Australian media dare to investigate.

How accurate are our national climate datasets when some adjustments turn entire long stable records from cooling trends to warming ones (or visa versa)? Do the headlines of “hottest ever record” (reported to a tenth of a degree) mean much if thermometer data sometimes needs to be dramatically changed 60 years after being recorded?

One of the most extreme examples is a thermometer station in Amberley, Queensland where a cooling trend in minima of 1C per century has been homogenized and become a warming trend of 2.5C per century. This is a station at an airforce base that has no recorded move since 1941, nor had a change in instrumentation. It is a well-maintained site near a perimeter fence, yet the homogenisation process produces a remarkable transformation of the original records, and rather begs the question of how accurately we know Australian trends at all when the thermometers are seemingly so bad at recording the real temperature of an area. Ken Stewart was the first to notice this anomaly and many others when he compared the raw data to [...]

Once in a life time opportunity to be an honest climate modeller — research scholarships!

This is a first! Announcing three scholarships for research-based higher degrees in Australia. Seeking Australian or New Zealand candidates who are science and engineering grads and interested in using neural nets to build climate models that work. This really is something new. Skeptical minds encouraged to apply. Please pass this on to people you think might be interested… – Jo

Once in a Life Time Opportunity to be an Honest Climate Modeller From Jennifer Marohasy

Most critics of anthropogenic global warming, and there are many, never get the opportunity to actually have a go at contributing to climate science in a practical or tangible and constructive way.  That is, they never get to pull a lever, press a button, build a model or make a forecast.  At best they might throw rotten tomatoes by way of blog posts and comments. This is because the tools of modern climate science are very complex and generally run on super computers with restricted access.

But what if it was possible to build your own climate model on a gaming computer, with some help from artificial neural network (ANN) technology?

Artificial neural networks are a form of artificial intelligence and machine learning, that can [...]

EU bans good vacuum cleaners — next big kettles, hot irons?

The Climate Police are coming.

In order to cool the global climate, the European Commission has decided, with infinite wisdom, that companies shall no longer be allowed to make or import vacuums with motors above 1600 watts — which is more than half of the vacuums on the market. These are climate-dangerous machines. They couldn’t just put a health warning with pics of drowning polar bears on the 2200W ones. They must be Verboten! The new rules start on September 1st. I’m sure if they could, they’d arrange a buy-back and amnesty program for high powered vacuums too.

In EUspeak, vacuums are about to get better! Apparently, they will use less energy, save money and pick up more dust too, all that was needed was regulation. (Why didn’t they think of it before?)

The Telegraph

Consumers warned to “act quickly” before top-rated powerful vacuum cleaners sell out forever

The European Commission claims that its new rules, which are intended to help tackle climate change by cutting Europe’s energy usage, will mean consumers “get better vacuum cleaners than ever before”.

The first vacuum was made in 1860. So after 150 years of fine tuning vacuum motors, at last the gifted bureaucrat [...]

New paper shows solar activity is linked to the Greenland climate even 20,000 years ago

This new paper by Adophi et al uses beryllium, oxygen and carbon isotopes from Greenland ice cores right back as far as the depth of the last ice age, 22,500 years ago, and finds there is a link between solar activity and the climate. It follows these proxies of temperature and solar activity as the planet warmed to the start of the Holocene 10,000 years ago.

It is gaining attention in The Daily Mail, with the headline:

Is the SUN driving climate change? Solar activity – ‘and not just humans’ – could be increasing global warming, study claims

During the last glacial maximum, Sweden was covered in a thick ice sheet that stretched all the way down to northern Germany and sea levels were more than 330ft (100m) lower than they are today, because the water was frozen in the extensive ice caps.

‘The study shows an unexpected link between solar activity and climate change,’ Dr Muscheler said in a press release.

‘It shows both that changes in solar activity are nothing new and that solar activity influences the climate, especially on a regional level. 

Dr Joanna Haigh, Professor [...]

Coal Miner Clive Palmer to host a climate conference for global leaders

Australian politics is pure side-show cabaret.

For Clive Palmer, it’s a smashing winner all the way ’round.  It’s more photo opportunities,  more Palmer-Party headlines, and a chance for him to hobnob with any international names who feel like turning up for a few days of taxpayer funded R&R to his Coolum Resort.

Thus Clive disarms his opponents, networks with the odd VIP, and unnerves the government all at the same time. He can wave the Green flag in future negotiations with Abbott and co, to try to haggle extra bits and pieces in his favour. Plus he distracts people from a messy legal matter with a Chinese firm, and he could certainly use some guests at his 95% empty resort. Which, by the way, is also a legal headache and in the news for all the wrong reasons.

It is a bet that a few politicians wouldn’t mind a Sunshine Coast junket after the G20 on November 17. They get to relax for a few tax-deductible or tax-funded days while they pretend to talk about the insolvable climate problem. Plus it’s a fun way to look compassionate and caring for the third rock from the sun. Everyone earns greenie points, [...]

The crazy world of Renewable Energy Targets

Nothing makes sense about Renewable Energy Targets, except at a “Bumper-Sticker” level. Today the AFR front page suggests* the federal government is shifting to remove the scheme (by closing it to new entrants) rather than just scaling it back. It can’t come a day too soon. Right now, the Greens who care about CO2 emissions should be cheering too. The scheme was designed to promote an  industry, not to cut CO2.

UPDATE: Mathias Cormann later says “that the government’s position was to “keep the renewable energy target in place” SMH.  Mixed messages indeed.

We’ve been sold the idea that if we subsidize “renewable” energy (which produces less CO2) we’d get a world with lower CO2 emissions. But it ain’t so. The fake “free” market in renewables does not remotely achieve what it was advertised to do — the perverse incentives make the RET good for increasing “renewables” but bad for reducing CO2, and, worse, the more wind power you have, the less CO2 you save. Coal fired electricity is so cheap that doing anything other than making it more efficient is a wildly expensive and inefficient way to reduce CO2. But the Greens hate [...]

Help bring Patrick Moore — a Greenpeace founder turned skeptic — to Australia

Case Smit and John Smeed are working to get Patrick Moore to visit Australia soon. Details on how you can help below.

In the video below Patrick Moore talks about his extensive work with Greenpeace during its first 15 years and the useful contributions they made before he split from them because of their increasingly irrational policies.  He’s a powerful, sensible advocate for compassionate reason. This is his journey from eco-warrior to defender of science, logic and the environment. He is a rare man and obviously sceptical of “catastrophic” global warming.

At the Heartland conference July 2014

From Case Smit:

Australia is hosting a “climate information” visit by Dr. Patrick Moore (co-founder of Greenpeace) in October – November this year.  Rather than lecturing to the “converted”, the principal purpose of this visit is for him to meet with opinion leaders in the media, politics and business to convey a rational environmentalist’s views on why policies instituted because of the “catastrophic climate change” scare need to be realistically addressed.

[...]

Could early antibiotic use lead to lifelong weight gain?

For a weekend curiosity: this study caught my eye.

What if part of the modern obesity epidemic was due to antibiotic use? It may be that if we feed babies antibiotics during a certain window of development, their metabolism changes in ways that last for life (say hello to Syndrome X — sigh). For years, evidence has been gathering that the bacteria in our gut have major contracts and complicated deals going with our immune system. Now this study in lab mice suggests serious negotiations might be going on between bacteria and our developing metabolism too.

The quote of the day: “When we put mice on a high-calorie diet, they got fat. When we put mice on antibiotics, they got fat,” explains Dr. Blaser. “But when we put them on both antibiotics and a high-fat diet, they got very, very fat.”

The study showed that it was not the antibiotics per se that caused the change, but the microflora. Perhaps immediately restocking with the right bacteria might negate the side-effects of the antibiotics.

Our intestines have one to two kilograms of little critter inhabitants, so it is quite the ecosystem inside there. This study tantalizingly suggests we may yet [...]

The mental illness of alarmism – climate depression, climate change delusion

Who would have guessed? A relentless propaganda campaign to generate fear about the climate has generated fear about the climate. It takes billions of dollars to generate delusion on this scale.

After hopes for government-run-climates were dashed in Copenhagen, the price of setting up a fantasy came back to haunt the team.  The fallout was psychological pain. The failure of Copenhagen was a savage set-back for the scare campaign in so many ways. Only now, years later, do we hear just how bad the repercussions were.

The answer to “climate fear” is, of course, to look at data skeptically, and to stay logical. But instead, the big-government-NGO machine diverts more money down the deep well of unreason. Now there are research papers analyzing “The Debilitating Disease of Climate Alarmism”, and counselors are (presumably) paid to counsel people on how to be afraid, but not overly so.

What’s the difference between this and a cult? A 17 year old was hospitalized with dehydration because he believed if he didn’t drink water it would help prevent a water shortage. A PhD grad says ““Every time I talked about environmental issues, I would start crying”.

Meanwhile the sensible types quietly leave, and the [...]

How the media distort the news: Lesson 1 — Lies by omission

The Sydney Morning Herald carefully removed the scientific arguments from an article today. Are they afraid their readers are not smart enough to reach the “right” conclusions if exposed to the wrong information? Hey, but its only national policy and billions of dollars at stake.

Today Maurice Newman warned that we are not prepared for climate change (he’s talking about the cold kind). The Australian published his thoughts citing Archibald, Usoskin, Svensmark, Brekke, Lockwood and Curry. Their readers are apparently clever enough to handle discussions of cosmic rays and large hadron colliders.

In Sydney Morning Herald, Latika Bourke and Lisa Cox write an article about Newman’s views, but carefully omit all of the scientific arguments, as well as the potential problems with one sided science funding and the names and credentials of the scientists he talks about. The pair do, however, find space to repeat the litany of the IPCC’s estimate of 95% “probability” (it’s hard to believe Sydney Morning Herald readers have not heard this before).  They don’t mention that the IPCC estimate is a speculative and unscientific number which gets paradoxically higher as the IPCC’s predictions are proven wrong. Nor did they interview Newman and ask him his [...]

Be afraid! Trapped atmospheric waves on the rise. Extreme heatwaves to come.

There are waves piling on waves in the weather.

A new press release tells us that there have been an “exceptional” number of weather extremes in summer.

Weather extremes in the summer — such as the record heat wave in the United States that hit corn farmers and worsened wildfires in 2012 — have reached an exceptional number in the last ten years. Human-made global warming can explain a gradual increase in periods of severe heat, but the observed change in the magnitude and duration of some events is not so easily explained.

Heatwaves lend themselves to headlines. Not only are they scary, but for climate researchers at a loose end, there are 1,000 flavors of wave to comb through. Is that a 3 day, 4 day or 7 day wave you are interested in? Is the cut-off 40C, 38C, 35C or a flexible percentile anomaly above the monthly average? Is it a statewide average, a national record, or a hot week in Houston? Shall we analyze that in seasons, by months, years, or part thereof? The combinations and permutations can keep a supercomputer up late at night. There’s a whole field of cherry trees ripe for the plucking.

It [...]

It’s an Unsettling Climate for skeptical scientists like Murry Salby

UPDATED: The full text is now available at City Journal. Rupert Darwall is the author of Age of Global Warming (and earning excellent reviews). Darwall has a gift for converting tricky scientific concepts into a story. This month in the City Journal, he beautifully summarizes and updates the story of Murry Salby. He’s interviewed Richard Lindzen and others, and discusses Salby’s work in the context of the way heretics are marginalized.

I helped Rupert with some of the background. It’s controversial science, a complex situation, with irrelevant baggage to boot. But that’s exactly the place where science communicators — or in the case of Rupert, excellent historians — are most keenly needed. The scientists, who are more the numbers-men are the ones who need their stories told, because they are the ones not so inclined to play the PR and networking games. Bureaucratized science attracts and rewards the network players instead, and so it has become that even academia favors the social-climber scientists and grant-players over the people who are more interested in data. (Like modern bureaucratized art, where the grants go to those who are good at getting grants, and the art looks more and more like fingerpainting.)

The [...]

It’s buttons for global warming! Hello — Climate Change has a new logo

After 4.5 billion years, finally climate change has a new logo.

But even some fans of the the Big Scare Campaign don’t like it. I can’t think why…

(It is dying – the fear of a carbon crisis.)

 

It looks to me like an inverse-SEO campaign designed by someone deeply afflicted with ASE (Artistic Status Envy — see also its Literary equivalent). Is the aim here just the banal trickery of ambushing the new skeptics who type “It’s not warming” into their search engines? Will gullible teens type in the phrase and find nothing but links to soft-green propaganda? (This could so easily backfire).

Or is this a new form of mental programming for the inductees into the climate faith? Now, when they hear “it’s not warming”, they’ll be getting confirmation — warming means “bad stuff”, now not warming means “bad stuff too!” It’s a form of deep psychology — so deep it’s done right through the magma and come out the other side.

If it looks upside down, that’s because it is.

Jeremy Porter on Grist is not impressed:

[...]

ABC bias against coal hurts the poor and the workers: Sell the ABC

A new report shows ABC journalists are fond of renewables and overlook their dismal economic value, while putting out bad news on coal, and ignoring the benefits of vast cheap profitable energy. Who could have seen that coming: a large public funded institution attracts employees who like large public funding?

The IPA arranged for a media analysis firm to compare the ABC reporting on coal and renewables.

ABC gives the green light to renewables, and the red light to Australia’s largest export industry and provider of 75% of our electricity.

ABC accused of bias against coalmining

Andrew Fraser, The Australian

The analysis of 2359 reports broadcast on the ABC over six months before March 15 this year found 15.9 per cent of stories on coalmining and 12.1 per cent of those about coal-seam gas mining were favourable, while 53 per cent of those on renewable energy were favourable.

It also found 31.6 per cent of stories on coal mining and 43.6 per cent of stories on coal-seam gas were unfavourable, while only 10.8 per cent of stories on renewable energy were ­unfavourable.

The ABC has become its own best case for privatizing the ABC. How much could we get? The [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Emma Thompson (actress) recites Greenpeace hymn specially for Australian PM

Congrats to Emma Thompson, she knows the litany perfectly.

It takes an Oscar winning actress to keep a smug face while saying something this inane.

“Tony Abbott Climate Change is REAL I’m standing on it!”

 

I hope she sends another message when she reaches the place called “climate sameness”.

Something tells me this is a high-carbon-footprint way to send a message. Perhaps an email to Tony Abbott might have saved some fish from becoming reckless in 2050?

Waxing Gibberish sends an alternative sign:

 

There are more gems of wisdom from economist scientist-actress Thompson. She must have  a Nanny McPhee trick or Sybill Trelawney divination up her sleeve: she thinks millions of letters can change the Arctic weather.

SBS

 ”Bear in mind that politicians often lose sight of issues that aren’t in front of them all the time.

“So we all need to be bold.

“If tens of millions of us wrote to our leaders demanding action on the Arctic and climate change, well – that could change everything.”

Royal Mail, a new climate forcing then?

In Thompson’s world, it’s all the governments fault. If [...]

Peak China

Australia might be the largest coal exporter in the world, but only because all the larger producers of coal keep their own and use it themselves. China is the silent giant coal monster — in 2009 Australia exported 260Mt of coal (our largest export industry). That same year China produced (and used) 3 billion tons. In this era, to predict anything globally, we need to understand China. David Archibald is author of the  Twilight of Abundance: Why Life in the 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish, and Short. He slices the energy data. (Energy, of course, drives everything). China is eating through its coal — it may be able to sustain this peak rate for a decade or so. Chinese oil appears close to reaching its peak. Growth in Chinese steel production has been slowing since 2006. The implications are provocative. — Jo

Guest Post by David Archibald

China has become wealthier in the last couple of decades but unfortunately is using some of that new wealth for military adventures against its neighbours.  The neighbours aren’t happy.  Over 60 percent of the people in countries bordering the South China Sea fear Chinese aggression and expect imminent war.  If [...]

Lewandowsky — Do we hate our participants?

José Duarte is a psychology PhD candidate. He is able to make sense of  issues in the “Moon Landing Paper” by Stephan Lewandowsky, with some new angles in a way I haven’t seen before. He makes a convincing case for the paper to be retracted, about six times over. My initial analysis of this paper still stands: “This could be the worst paper  I have seen — an ad hom argument taken to its absurd extreme, rebadged as “science”.

I recommend Duarte’s whole long analysis, though there is language there that for legal reasons I won’t repeat or endorse. What we see is sloppy science and grand “incompetence“.

Duarte focuses on the deception of a title based on only 10 responses, some of which were fakes, none of which was disclosed to the reader:

Lewandowsky, Oberauer, Gignac titled their paper “NASA faked the moon landing—therefore, (climate) science is a hoax: an anatomy of the motivated rejection of science.”

Why is their title based on the variable for which they have the least data, essentially no data?

Why in the abstract are they linking free market views to incredibly damaging positions that again, they have [...]

A few PR Giants won’t help “deniers of climate change” (but 70% of PR giants will)

The most dangerous thing is a skeptic that can be heard.

If only climate activists had evidence, they wouldn’t need to use social censure, instead of reasoned arguments. But it was never about the science, and always about PR. If skeptical arguments weren’t so powerful, the fans of Climate Change TM wouldn’t be going out of their way to try to silence skeptics.

This article itself is spun. They frame the message to avoid saying that only 28% of PR Firms agreed climate change was a threat or that 60% of PR firms ignored them completely. They only name five PR groups, and at least one (WPP) is a conglomerate of 150 firms which “will all make their own decisions”. So much for that.

The Guardian,of course, gullibly soaks up the meme. Suzanne Goldenberg and Nishad Karim asks no hard questions.

World’s top PR companies rule out working with climate deniers

Ten firms say they will not represent clients that deny man-made climate change or seek to block emisson-reducing regulations

Since no one actually denies the climate changes, this is a bit like refusing to work with Klingons. Though fans of Climate Change TM speak in Spin-English and [...]

Green plan causes air pollution, may kill thousands in the UK, thanks to dirty diesel

A Greenpeace Bio-diesel Campaign, November 2000

Golly — who would have thought that policies based on a logical fallacy and a pseudo-religion would be a bad idea? It’s not just bad, it’s deadly. For the last ten years environmentalists and greens told Europeans to buy diesel cars, not petrol, because they produce less CO2. So British people, and a lot of Europe too, did exactly that — lured by generous tax breaks, pushed by the guilt trip if they were thinking of buying a petrol car. The car fleet of the EU was transformed. Back in the early nineties, hardly anyone owned a diesel, but now, as many as half of all new cars in the UK are diesel, and some extra 45 million diesel cars have been bought across Europe. But clean energy turned out to be dirty fuel, with diesels producing tons of small dangerous particulates, black carbon, and other real pollutants.

It’s so bad, the UK is not meeting air pollution standards, and more importantly, by at least one estimate, some 7,000 deaths a year can be attributed to diesel pollution from cars.

Diesel pollution is becoming such an issue in London that Boris Johnson is [...]