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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Real sea level rise: a lost continent called Zealandia submerged

File this under Nasty Nature. This is the sort of thing planet Earth throws at life.

The is real “sea level rise” — where most of a continent (called Zealandia) sinks under the waves — and — as far as we know, though I could be wrong  — fossil fuel use was minimal circa 50 -80 million years ago. Can Exxon be blamed?

New Zealanders may be feeling a bit cheesed that they carelessly lost something like 80% of their land. (Call that “Old Zealand” which was once as big as India.) Given that it is one kilometer underwater, it looks like it isn’t coming back soon. But think of all the national parks, reefs, etc that were destroyed?

Zealandia. |  Credit: IODP

The story is that the Pacific Rim of Fire “buckled” 40-50 million years ago, and Zealandia sunk a lot deeper. There is a suggestion that it was originally submerged about 80 million years ago (or so), when this renegade land split from Australia and Antarctica.

Since 1,000 tide gauges estimate current sea level rise at around 1 mm a year, real climate change puts the current panic about sea levels into perspective. Even the next ice [...]

Within 5 minutes a wave of hot water systems switch on in SA adding 250MW of demand to the grid

We are creatures of habit. Look at the spike caused at 11:32pm as something like 27,000 hot water tanks in South Australia suddenly switch on to use cheaper off-peak electricity. This spike is entirely due to pricing plans. It’s entirely avoidable too, but at least it’s predictable. “Scheduled”.

This peak, allegedly, is only a problem if SA is “islanded” — meaning if it can’t rely on the coal generators in Victoria.

Yesterday people were asking why the South Australian demand was peaking at 1am (and why two hours were strangely missing from that graph). “Hot water” is the answer (at least to the first part).

SA Hot water systems add sudden 250MW of demand at 11:30pm. Graph.

This graph comes from the AEMO report in Feb 2016. What follows is their electro-nitty-gritty:

Based on previous experience, and as demonstrated in a separation event on 1 November 2015, maintaining the SA power system in a secure operating state is challenging if there are large changes to the supply-demand balance during a period of islanding.

There is a risk of automatic under frequency load shedding if SA is being operated as an island during the hot water demand peak, [...]

Poor BOM: Dangerous deniers, amateurs, attacking Australian Bureau of Meteorology, debilitating it by asking questions.

Excellent news. Obviously we are getting to the BoM.

This week, Jen Marohasy and I were mentioned by Maurice Newman in The Australian.“Smoking Gun demands Grilling for the BoM”. In response, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has unleashed a double dummy-popping effort in The Guardian.

The BoM could have answered the questions in The Australian, of course, but it’s so much easier to whine, bluster, raise the conspiracy flag and avoid the questions that matter at the-ask-no-hard-questions-Guardian.

Bureau of Meteorology attacks pushed by ‘fever swamp’ of climate denial

Graham Readfearn

Former weather bureau chief says agency debilitated by climate deniers’ attacks

Michael Slezak

It really is an extraordinary rant as the former head of the BoM admits skeptics are “debilitating” the BoM with these “attacks”. The Guardian is so starved of real news, it runs the one-sided name-calling excuses and another separate story discusses it as if it was actually news. While The Australian asks the BoM for a reply and would publish it, The Guardian didn’t ask a skeptic. One of these newspapers acts like a newspaper…

How debilitating are we skeptics? Jennifer Marohasy tells me she sent the BoM questions in 2015, but hasn’t [...]

Advert in The Australian describes what real climate change looks like

An advert today describes the real climate change we should afraid of, discusses how past CO2 levels did not cause dangerous global warming, and extra CO2 has a smaller and smaller effect, then connects failed climate models with rising electricity bills.

Click to enlarge.

The text….


Latest, belated admission the models were “too hot” is all PR and politics, nothing to do with science

Spot the political PR paper pretending to be science: the global carbon budget just got a whopping — four –  times — bigger, but instructions on how to follow the carbon religion are 100% identical.

It’s become too obvious to everyone that the climate models have been complete failures. Thus, the global leeches were facing a crisis as their credibility and motivation drain. So the new paper in Nature Geoscience is just a retweak of the models to produce a number that isn’t so mock-worthy. There is no scientific reason offered, no new understanding of the climate. No one is even pretending that these modelers can explain the way our climate works any better than they did last year when they were utter failures. It’s all a charade. There is no honesty here — if there was, they’d admit the skeptics are years ahead of them.

The new paper is just about “staying the game”, a desperate injection to keep the dying movement alive. All the political messages remain untouched. It’s got everything to do with PR and nothing to do with science.

The numbers change (and nobody ever cared about them anyway) but PR meme is a carbon copy: [...]

Alan Kohler dreams of banning combustion engines in cars in Australia

You have to hand it to The Australian – they will publish both sides. Take this (please, take it): “Our energy policy still stuck in coal country”. This is Alan Kohler, bless him, who doesn’t get it and dreams of a nation of motor-heads “going electric”. But, wow, ouch, watch how he reasons it out… not with numbers and graphs (he’s the numbers man on the nightly finance report) but with pop psychology?

The idea of an Australian government banning petrol and diesel cars to promote public health seems especially remote right now: we can’t keep the lights on as it is, having closed a few fossil fuel power stations.

But you can bet that the Coalition government and its media supporters will argue that the electrification of transport makes it even more necessary for there to be more “baseload power” from coal-fired power stations — how could we possibly charge millions of cars, and run millions of airconditioners and fridges if we let Liddell close in 2022?

And you can fix that Mr Kohler, how?

Wait for it…

This is the underlying reality of Australia’s energy debate: a majority of the government does not actually [...]

Taxpayers give $300m to Saudi billionaire for solar plant that makes 2% of old dying coal plant’s power

It will only take 50 plants like this, and $15 billion spare dollars, to replace the Liddell coal station (8,000GWh), now slated for closure in 2022.

$300m handout to Saudi tycoon for solar farm

Australians are set to pay $300 million in subsidies to an outback solar farm owned by a Saudi Arabian billionaire in a new test of the federal government’s looming energy reforms, escalating a dispute over whether to cut the handouts to keep coal-fired power stations alive.

AGL’s controversial Liddell coal power station in the NSW Hunter Valley generates 50 times as much electricity as the Moree solar farm in the state’s north, which stands to gain big subsidies from households from higher electricity bills until 2030…

But we need more chinese-built glass panels that make green weather-controlling electrons.

Lucky solar power is so competitive. Look at the money roll…

The Moree solar farm generates 150,000 megawatt hours of electricity a year, about 0.08 per cent of the 200 terawatt hours produced on the national electricity market every year. The project is forecast to collect about $50m in payments over the next four years and $90m in the following decade under the existing [...]

Former NASA GISS climate scientist reveals incompetence, junkets, best model called “jungle” of code

Dr Duane Thresher who worked seven years at NASA GISS describes a culture of self serving rent-seekers, mismanagement and  incompetence. These are the top experts in the climate science field that we are supposed to accept without questioning. Those who say they are working to “save the planet” care more about their junckets than they do about the data or their “best” model.

NASA GISS’s most advanced climate model is run from the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Thresher recounts a story from someone on the inside:

“NASA GISS’s climate model — named Model E, an intentional play on the word “muddle” — is called the “jungle” because it is so badly coded.”   I know this to be true from my own extensive experience programming it (I tried to fix as much as I could…).

Thresher writes about how the team was happy to take taxpayer funds and spend it on unnecessary conferences which were “loads of fun” while they scrimped and saved on things like data security and incompetent tech staff. Secretaries and mail boys were hired for jobs they were not qualified for. At one point data was lost when exposed plumbing leaked in the [...]

Too late: Bureau of Met buys time with another “major revision” of data that was already “best quality” five years ago

Breaking news: Bureau of Meteorology to revamp temperature records, Graham Lloyd reports in The Australian.

We’ve seen this all three times before. As soon as skeptics expose enough scandals in The Australian the BOM has to run and hide behind a “major revision”, a panel, or a review. It’s their pass-out-of-class to not answer questions. It’s too late, I have no expectation that this will achieve anything other than being the excuse de jour for the BOM to keep operating as a PR machine rather than a scientific agency.

In the first round back in February 2011, we worked with Cory Bernardi to request a formal audit of the BOM. They had lauded their “High Quality” or HQ dataset, but suddenly it was not good enough and needed revising. In March 2012 the BOM released an entirely new version called ACORN. The formal audit request was thus “neutralized”, but the new set was as bad as the old set. By July 2012, for free, skeptics analyzed and advised the bureau of a string of pathetic flaws, including that the bureau had “created” nearly a thousand days where minimum temperatures were higher than the maxes,  the “hottest day ever recorded in [...]

Our electricity crisis is “the cost of virtue signalling”

Let’s get “certainty” — dump the RET.

Chris Kenny in The Weekend Australian puts almost all the pieces together.  This is self-sacrificial, pointless, and the RET is the problem because the subsidies allow renewables to drive out true baseload generation. The so-called hunt for “certainty” is a hunt for high prices because no one will speak the obvious “Dump the Renewable Energy Target”.

Dumping green folly will secure energy future, reboot economy

We are an energy-rich nation. Last year we exported 388 million tonnes of coal (valued at $35 billion) to supply affordable and ­reliable energy to countries such as Japan, China, South Korea and India. Our liquefied natural gas exports are doubling from 30 million tonnes a couple of years ago to almost 80 million tonnes (valued at $42bn) by 2019.

Australia also remains one of the largest exporters of uranium…

While we happily export our energy advantage, we have deliberately sacrificed it at home.

Turnbull — doing exactly the wrong thing after Trump won:

Astonishingly, less than a day after Donald Trump won the US election promising to abandon Paris, Malcolm Turnbull announced Australia’s ratification. The Prime Minister thumbed his [...]

UPDATE: Malcolm Roberts, One Nation replies the two-stroke mower *change* is about real pollution, not CO2

Thanks to Malcolm Roberts for contacting me tonight with more information. CLARIFICATION: It’s not a complete ban on two-strokes, but a change to increase standards on motors. (It appears it will reduce real pollution, and the legislation also claims it will reduce CO2, though no CO2 limits are mandated as far as I can tell. It will stop the sales of most conventional two-stroke outboards and mowers, but not “direct injection” outboards. Gory details below)*

From Malcolm Roberts:

 Re: Genius Plan to ban two-stroke motors

Please note that Soichiro Honda himself banned his company from making 2-stroke outboard motors in the 1970’s after he visited Lake Tahoe and was shocked to see oil film on its waters. That pollution was produced by 2-stroke outboard motors.

He had the courage to do the right thing so despite the inherently higher weight and lower power of 4-stroke motors at the time. He put the real environment ahead of profits and as a result the new path led Honda to designing and building superior motors.


Genius plan to save world by banning *old style* two-stroke lawn mowers, weed whackers, outboard boat motors.

Cory Bernardi outlines legislation that has just passed banning *old-style* 2-stroke motors from 2019 — meaning lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, weed whackers, and outboard boat motors. In Australia mowers and fishing tinnies are heritage material. It’s a new carbon tax by stealth, pretending to be about health.

h/t to  Tim Blair who adds a movie of Australians dancing with lawn mowers for the Sydney Olympic opening ceremony (just to give you foreigners some appreciation of how attached Australians are to them).

Stock up now. You may not be able to buy them (legally) after 2019. I predict a high black market value decent prices for “Vintage models on ebay”.

Bernardi argues that theoretically this ruling could be extended to farm machinery, quad bikes, and off road dirt bikes.

Why did One Nation vote for this?  Oops… UPDATE: And here’s the answer from Malcolm Roberts, who argues it is not about CO2 but about real pollution.

At Tim Blairs: Commenter Bruce there suggest this will apply to some model aircraft engines too.

Commenter P says:    Temperatures will plummet and we’ll be thrown back into an ice age

MORE INFO: See for details about dates, reasons and what this [...]

Momentum shifts on Renewables Targets in Australia (mini revolt brewing)

Things are heating up to stop other things blacking out

Last week the AEMO (which controls our electricity grid) said we needed 1,000MW of spare power to keep the lights on in SA and Victoria this summer. Didn’t that light a fuse? Then AGL (a major energy player in Australia with coal, gas and wind assets) dug in and repeated that it was going to be hero and definitely close another coal plant (called Liddell) in 2022. At this point, the Prime Minister, no less, had to suddenly enter into talks to convince AGL to sell Liddell or keep it running a bit longer — anything but a shut down. (Figure how screwed up a market has to be for the owner of an asset to need to be talked into perhaps, maybe selling it for money instead of throwing it away? Isn’t any money better than none? Well, maybe not in a river of subsidies… more on the games going on in AGL soon.)

Desperate, Turnbull even offered to buy a stake in Liddell (with tax dollars). So the government may have to buy up exactly the kind of project the government has been working to close with RET [...]

Former NASA GISS climate scientist tells new NASA head to stop funding “corrupt, carpet-baggers”

A new incendiary blog by Dr. Duane Thresher  and Dr. Claudia Kubatzki unleashes on NASA Goddard Institute (one of the two main motherlodes of climate activism), calling for them to be defunded because they are “ignoble”, with “herds of do-gooders”, and “NASA GISS is a monument to bad science that truly should be torn down. Take the money and buy a rocket.”

They are a husband and wife team, both producing peer-reviewed climate papers. He worked at NASA GISS for seven years. Since they came out as skeptics in California, they’ve had to move house.  Thanks to Marc Morano for the tip.

His latest post calls on the new NASA head, appointed by Trump, to just turn off the tap, cut the cash: Bridenstine, Climate Scientists Are Not Noble, Stop Paying Them

Everyone assumes climate scientists are noble. Fighting to save the planet. What nonsense. Not even close.

They write about a wave of new money into climate science and the decay of the field:

Enter opportunists, carpetbaggers, the corrupt, the ignoble.

What to do?  Stop paying climate scientists. The good ones are so into their science they will work for food, maybe less, [...]

Australian Bureau of Met uses 1 second noise, not like WMO, UK and US standards

Cambridge University Press

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology may not be meeting WMO, UK, US standards

Since the Australian BOM allows for one second “records”, it’s not clear it is even meeting guidelines recommended for amateurs.

The key question: How much of the warming trend in Australia is due to the switch in the mid 1990s from older slower thermometers to new electronic zippy ones that could record every waft of hot air? How many records today are just noise?

If the BOM would release its calibration and comparison data instead of deleting it, we might know. Why won’t they?

Here’s an example graph from Maryborough where the daily maximum was 1.5C above every thirty minute reading. Ouch — are we writing outliers and noise into our history books and climate data bases?

Add “sampling method”  and averaging to your skeptical vocabulary. There will be a lot more discussion on these.

Maryborough. Graph by Ken Stewart.

Let’s consider some basic standards in the meteorology world

The Weather Observer’s Handbook 2012 tells us the new electronic sensors are more sensitive than the old mercury thermometers. The author, Stephen Burt, explains that the new electronic sensors can be too sensitive, and [...]