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

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The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper




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

Scientists reply to hypocrites: We dare you to talk science instead how you hate “fossil fuels”

Caught with their pants down.

Unskeptical-scientists, like Hansen, Trenberth, and Mann, have plastered their name on a document aiming to stop scientific research. They want less science funding. Who hates science then?

The Ethical Poseurs

Who cares about the ethics of fossil fuels funding skeptics, but doesn’t care when renewable-energy corporations sponsor pro-crisis exhibitions? Siemens was principle sponsor of the UK Science Museum’s propaganda gallery on climate science. It makes EUR 80 million profit each quarter from wind and renewables. Where is the outrage? When mercenary corporates use museums to boost their profits, that’s OK for Hansen, Trenberth and Mann. The other big sponsor was Shell, which profits from gas sales, when its cheap competitor coal gets hit thanks to “climate-panic”. Shell, of course, likes windmills, which need a gas form of back up.

Time skeptics stood up for science funding

We skeptics need to stop buying into the bullying and intimidation of those who say fossil fuels can fund unskeptical research but not skeptical (i.e. real) research. The sole reason they do this is to starve skeptics and to poison the well for audiences. It is anti-science, anti-free-speech, anti-intellectual in every way.

Most times when a skeptic says “we [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Been away for a few days again… north this time. Cute small fishing towns are overlooked.

Hope you are having fun too.

Bjorn Lomborg gets funding for a new centre at UWA, howls and protests begin

Bjorn Lomborg writes in The Australian reasonably often, so he is fairly well known amongst the thinking set in Australia.

The Consensus Centre is coming to UWA, my old alma mater, and former home of Steven Lewandowsky, and PhD candidate John Cook. Strange company indeed. It is promising that something rational will probably come forth from UWA for a change. It’s also promising that the Abbott government seems to recognise the need to break the monopoly in funding by a small amount. The choice of UWA might not be as outlandish as people think. It is as politically as pathetically correct as any university, but it doesn’t have a major climate gravy train. Their climate science courses page says it all — they only have a generic enviro-science major, and a bland “thesis” for postgrads. Their Climate Science page is (as wiki would say) a “stub article” in need of content. It  links to the UnskepticalScience blog, Lewandowskys nearly dead blog, and one respectable twitter account. In other words, $4m would make a huge difference in UWA-climate-land, which is a vacuum. I don’t think there was any chance of Lomborg getting help from say, Uni NSW instead (where Sherwood, England, [...]

Fewer heatwaves for 9 million Australians in Sydney, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne –”thank CO2″!

Let’s play the Heatwaves PR game. If CO2 had an effect we’d see a significant increase in the rate of global warming over the decades since WWII, the models would work, and climate scientists would be able to predict our climate. Since none of that is true, those with a political agenda have to clutch at noisy but marketable extremes instead. Apparently even a half-true, noisy, non-causal link is good enough for post-modern scientists.

Heatwaves are perfect for generating scientific sounding fear, but not so useful for generating actual scientific knowledge. There are an infinity of ways to measure them. They can last 3 days – 160 days, and be cut off at any number from 35  – 40C, or at some percentile outlier. They can be measured one town at a time, or on a regional or state-wide level. The permutations are rich with headline scoring possibilities. And in the end, on a long warming trend that started 300 years ago, it is obvious, inevitable, and predictable that we should score more now. What’s surprising is how often we don’t.

On ABC radio before Easter, Dr Vertessy, Director and CEO of the Bureau of Meteorology, claimed that we are seeing [...]

The German electricity crisis – twice the price, but everyone’s going broke

When the Germans mess something up, they do it properly

Germany — is aiming for a 40% cut in carbon by 2020, and have “led the way” with solar and wind power. Electricity bills are now twice the price of those in North America, and some 800,000 poor people had their power cut off because they can’t pay their bills.  Despite the high prices, gas power has become uneconomic, even though it is one the best methods for dealing with the erratic energy delivered from wind and solar. Nuclear can’t save them, they will have none after 2022 when the last reactor turns off.

The pain is pointless. For all the money spent, they aren’t saving much CO2, and aren’t changing the weather.  They end up importing many of the goods which need energy, so the emissions occur in other countries without emissions controls. The German manufacturing sector can’t compete and struggles by on subsidies. Consumers pay more for goods or pay more through tax for the subsidies. Meanwhile, in the EU politicians seem to have realized that biofuels won’t work, but they don’t have the courage to kill them off and face the backlash — instead they fund it just [...]

The simple trick to solve the impasse in the climate debate — have one (Tell the Australian govt).

For the last twenty years, the IPCC and co. have spared no expense in inundating us with full gloss, swanky adverts and catchy bumper stickers. The Rudd government spent $13.9 million on one advertising campaign “Think Climate, Think Change”. Yet the number of skeptics is growing — fully 53% of Australians are skeptical. The debate is more polarised than ever, and the “deniers” are often blamed for slowing action. So resolving the impasse, the stalemate, ought be the highest priority for the planet, right? But more advertising won’t change the trend, the issue has been marketed to death. What hasn’t been tried is the old fashioned, hard but honest way to resolve an issue — real public debate.

Tony Abbott could be the most forward-thinking scientifically-advanced world leader. He could be the first to take the bull by the horns and really tackle the climate stalemate. He might break the impasse. For the planet’s sake, we can’t afford to wait. Right?

The Australian Federal Government is seeking public consultation 

What should the Greenhouse Gas Target be? The Federal Government is seeking your input for the UNFCCC meeting in Paris, COP 21 (see ABC news). The government also wants to know [...]

Monckton willing to bet $500,000 on icesheets

The  Age in Melbourne published a letter from a “Maurie” declaring that the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets would “melt away in the next decade.” Monckton found it hard to believe The Age would print this drivel, and was amazed to find Maurie, apparently, is one of Australia’s foremost chemists”, — Maurice Trewhella, who seems to have won a green award at the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. (Not that I have heard of him).

So Monckton explains why the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets won’t be gone in 2024 then offers Maurie, and four others, the chance to win $100,000 each if this wild prediction comes even ten percent close. To show he is serious he offers to donate the first $10,000 to charity (so will other bet contenders). Will the “mean area of the combined Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets” in 2024 be less than 90 percent of what it was in 2014″?

Christopher Monckton:

Some 4,000 years ago, the temperature on the summit of the Greenland plateau was 2.5 Celsius degrees warmer than the present. Yet the ice did not melt. And it didn’t melt in the last interglacial period, 110,000 years ago, when again the [...]

Support Willie Soon and science: This mudball gets return-to-sender

When personal, ad hominem attacks are launched against a scientist there is no upside for science. People who care about science discuss the science, not the scientist’s-biography. Instead there are five potentially ugly outcomes that the mudslingers are presumably aiming for:

The target scientist may be effectively silenced: spectators tune out. Weaker journalists feel less inclined to cite them for fear of the push-back against themselves. Another day where the scientific national conversation wallows in the gutter instead of discussing science. The target scientist feels dissuaded.  Who needs this hassle? The message to thousands of silent skeptical scientists is unmistakable –  “don’t speak” or you’re next. Philanthropists, and corporate donors feel the heat too, and may (if they are not made of strong stuff) figure that their funding does more harm than good. This starves independent science of essential support.

These attacks don’t raise a single scientific argument. Their aim is not “better science”.  Let’s turn the pain back on the mudslinger and those who aid and abet. It won’t be so much fun for them if each attack makes us stronger, crystallizes support, and exposes their anti-science intent.

This mud-ball is begging to be turned

We don’t want to play [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Margaret River | Photo Jo Nova on Friday (Click to enlarge) Trees are Karri and Marri.

Yes, I’ve been away again. Hence not so many posts and comments. This holiday thanks to reader Alex and his lovely family.

Hypothesis contradicted? Fatter people get *less* dementia

Researchers were sure fatter people would get more dementia, so they studied two million middle-aged people for nearly a decade but were “baffled to find the exact opposite. Their sample included 45,000 cases of dementia and the obese were 30 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with it.

This contradicts previous studies and was not at all what the researchers expected, so they analyzed the data every which way they could think of but can’t explain the results. Need I say “experts” and “consensuses”?

Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said they were baffled by the results as previous studies have shown that being overweight raises the risk. –Telegraph

Risk factors such as alcohol and smoking made little difference to the results, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.  — Mirror

Dr Qizilbash said the findings held despite attempts to adjust for other causes of dementia and the tendency of obese people to die earlier. “We did a lot of analysis to see if we could explain it but just seems to persist. We couldn’t get rid of it so we’re left with this apparent protective effect,” he said. [...]