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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BOM homogenization errors are so big they can be seen from space

It’s just not cricket. And in so many ways.

Shame to let a perfectly good dataset go to waste… Australian data comes from some of the longest stations running in the Southern Hemisphere; it could be useful. Instead we get more evidence here that the BOM’s magical and secret homogenization adjustments can take poor data and spread false signals into better data. Homogenisation errors are already visible in a site-by-site analysis, but this shows the problems may be so big they affect averages across the whole of Australia, and we can detect them with satellites.

Tom Quirk continues comparing the satellite record of Australia with the BOM surface version. Previously, he (and for the record, Ken Stewart in 2015) showed that some discrepancies are due to the effect of heavy rain or drought. But now he looks further and finds that not-so-coincidentally, the largest gaps and most “inexplicable” differences occur in the mid nineteen-nineties, the same years the BoM shifted from using old large Stevenson screens to electronic thermometers. Around the same time, the large screens were often also swapped for much smaller ones too — like double jeopardy for data. Oddly, spookily, the BOM makes many adjustments to data [...]

Satellite going AWOL at 28,000km/hr — tracking that Chinese stray machinery

The ESA blog has this trajectory “prediction” (below). Given that the window of reentry stretches across a day and the object in question is doing 28,000 km per hour, we can say for sure this will hit Earth. (Or rather, some small part of the satellite that survives the burning up process will touchdown somewhere). Two weeks ago Roy Spencer predicted it will probably hit “the ocean” and explained why it is so difficult to estimate the actual impact point. It is circling the Earth every 89 minutes.

UPDATE: This was China’s first space station. Launched in 2011. It has two sleeping spots for astronauts, and was visited twice.  View this as a mark of the rise of China. Though it also says something that China lost control/contact with it in March 2016. Tiangong-1 is only 8,500 kg. The Russian space station Mir was 120,000kg.

UPDATE #2: 3pm  Watch the LIVE track at N2Yo (overloaded)  or at SATview or  Heavens Above.

UPDATED #3: Narrowing the risk map.  Dr Marco Langbroek‏ 

Aerospace estimate is April 2 at 02:00 UTC ± 7   0:18 UTC ± 2 hours.  (Current UTC time is 5:10pm, so seven-ish hours to go, more or less.)  USA and [...]

Surprise: Australia closed a cheap coal generator and electricity got 85% more expensive

Last year one of our largest coal power plants suddenly closed, with only five months warning, catching the market by surprise and taking out 5% of our cheapest generation. (This kind of improbable anti-free-market feat shows just how screwed our national market is). The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has looked at the effect the closure of Hazelwood had on electricity prices and concluded that closing cheap brown-coal plants and replacing them with black coal and gas will make electricity prices rise. This will come as no surprise to anyone who can count to 100.

Dan Harrison at the ABC reports:

A year on from the closure of the 1600 megawatt-sized plant in the Latrobe Valley, the report from the Australian Energy Regulator found wholesale prices in Victoria were up 85 per cent on 2016.

Because electricity retailers use hedging for wholesale prices, the rise in retail prices is still feeding through. In the wash, the wholesale increase is expected to add 16% to retail prices this financial year compared to last year. After that, through some miracle, the AEMC expects prices to come back down from Exorbitant to Slightly Lower Than Exorbitant in the next two years thanks to an [...]

Thin sunscreen layer to *save reef from bleaching* for first time in twenty million years

Scientists are suggesting that a thin layer of floating calcium carbonate can cut sunlight over reefs by 30% and save some high value reefs from bleaching.

This should work well on all the reefs that evolved in the last fifty years and which don’t have moving water.

But half of the coral genera around today have been around since the Oligocene (23-34 million years ago) and for most of that time the oceans were warmer.  (Lucky human civilization evolved just in time to save all these reefs from extinction.)

Bleaching has probably been going on for millions of years longer than we have been scuba diving with cameras to film it. We only discovered coral bleaching in the 1980s. Not surprisingly, marine life has ways to adapt to heatwaves by chucking out the symbionts that don’t thrive in higher temperatures and replacing them with new inhabitants that do.

Yes, let’s  cover our most diverse and important reef systems with an artificial layer that cuts incoming sunlight by a third — What could possibly go wrong?

Ultra-fine film possible saviour for Great Barrier Reef

Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Biology say tests of a floating “sun shield” made [...]

EarthHour: largest global movement for environment. “Millions participate” and like every carbon scheme, nothing happens

Earthhour is “The Largest Global Movement for the Environment”*

SBS tells us that it started in Australia (sorry), is observed by millions, and now occurs in 187 countries. (Since only one person has to turn off one light to qualify, I want to know which seven countries didn’t?)

To mark Earth Hour this year, WWF asked the public to make a “promise for the planet” – a small step in their own lives to help reduce their environmental footprint – such as refusing plastic cutlery or carrying a reusable coffee cup.  While these promises are small individually, WWF stated that “millions of people taking these actions together will have a massive, powerful impact”.

Which day was EarthHour Day in Australia –  Spot the difference:

Was this EarthDay?

The Australian National Electricity Grid last weekend.

 

Or this?

The Australian National Electricity Grid last weekend (the other day).

Source: Aneroid 24th March and Aneroid 25th March.

Notice the Earth-saving electricity dip at 8:30pm when millions turn off their lights!

Megagrams of carbon was saved. (Maybe.)

Take it from WWF  — this is the sum total effect of all the voters that care about climate change.

There [...]

Fight the forces of darkness, celebrate PowerHour Tonight!

Remember EarthHour? Tonight is the night to rejoice in electricity from 8.30-9:30pm.

Some of those fossil fuels have been waiting for 100 million years to return to the sky.

Things you can do:

Turn on all the lights you can find — Put on the party lights, the patio light, the pool light, the mozzie zappers, unpack those Christmas decorations. Get out your torches. Switch the movement detector spotlights to continuous operation. (Involve the kids — they love to help). [...]

Sydney May: Plimer, Nova (How to Destroy a Grid), others at *huge* Liberty Conf. Book now!

A huge conference is building in Sydney.  Quick, join in, you can get a 10% discount with the code Nova18.

I’ll be there for the first time having great fun explaining how to burn billions and ruin reliable electricity — which was a big hit here in Perth.

How to destroy a perfectly good electricity grid in three easy steps

The World is watching Australia. Despite being handicapped with abundant resources, we’ve turned ourselves into an international spectacle with rampant blackouts, flying squads of diesel generators, and the highest electricity prices in the world. An achievement like this does not come easily.

The grand experiment unfolds around us, as the nation discovers why “free” energy isn’t free, why storage is deceptively expensive, yet baseload is deceptively cheap.

Discover the Joy of Blackouts!

There is an amazing line up of speakers this year on May 25-27 in Sydney. A building full of sane people!

See the feisty, fabulous Ian Plimer, and Nick Minchin (former Senator, skeptic, who starred in the ABC documentary and invited David and me onto it). Not to miss Sinclair Davidson from Catalaxy, Graeme Young from Online Opinion (remember his great [...]

Fires destroy scores of homes in Tathra because we don’t have enough solar panels

Terrible fires destroyed 69 houses and 30 caravans and another 39 houses were damaged in Tathra in SE Australia last Sunday.

Greens Chieftain, Richard Di Natale, waited at least two minutes before exploiting their pain to make advertisements for the Green Industrial Complex:

Government’s climate stance ‘like NRA’s on guns after a massacre’

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has controversially likened the government’s refusal to recognise climate change as a cause of the southern NSW bushfires to the National Rifle Association’s failure to acknowledge the role of gun laws in preventing mass shootings in the US.

Asked what the government could do about a global problem when Australia accounted for just 1.3 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Senator Di Natale said the risk of extreme weather events could be mitigated if the nation transitioned “away from coal”.

“We have to stop the Adani mine from being built. We have to recognise that coal doesn’t have a long-term future. We need to ensure that we take advantage of the huge jobs* that come with building more solar farms, more wind farms,” he said.

According to the Greens, fires are mostly a one variable [...]

Midweek Unthreaded

Pruitt launches science bomb: insists EPA only use data that is public. No more secret science.

In a bombshell, Scott Pruitt is expecting scientists to act scientifically.

In the US the EPA has been making rules that cost billions based on studies from groups that refused to publish their data. Regulations like The Clean Power Plan were estimated to cost $8.4 billion and magically return $14 – $34 billion in “health and climate benefits”. Scott Pruitt plans to pop that bubble.

Michael Bastach, Daily Caller:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will soon end his agency’s use of “secret science” to craft regulations.

“We need to make sure their data and methodology are published as part of the record,” Pruitt said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Otherwise, it’s not transparent. It’s not objectively measured, and that’s important.”

“If we use a third party to engage in scientific review or inquiry, and that’s the basis of rulemaking, you and every American citizen across the country deserve to know what’s the data, what’s the methodology that was used to reach that conclusion that was the underpinning of what — rules that were adopted by this agency,” Pruitt explained.

My only minor, tiny, complaint is that there is [...]

Green Druid Di Natale blames cars, rocks, & mean people, for causing Cat 2 cyclones they said would happen less

Druids at work

The voters smacked the Greens yesterday, so today the Greens smack the voters. Richard Di Natale, Green Chieftain, blames the recent spate of storms and fires for the governments failure to change the global weather.

The Australian

The Greens have blamed the federal government’s failure to address climate change for a cyclone and bushfires which have ravaged communities across Australia over the past 48 hours.

Cyclone Marcus has swept across the Northern Territory, bringing down power lines and hundreds of trees in what Chief Minister Michael Gunner described as the biggest storm to hit the Top End in 30 years.

In Tathra on the NSW South Coast, at least 70 properties have been destroyed, while thousands of hectares of farmland, livestock and 18 homes have been lost in four blazes which were started by lightning strikes across South West Victoria.

In an anti-coal speech in the Senate today, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the government had been doing “everything it can to slow this country’s transition to renewable energy”.

–Joe Kelly, Andrew Burrell

Four thousand IPCC-Chief-Gurus said cyclones will become “less frequent” but “more [...]

Mystery solved: Rain means satellite and surface temps are different. Climate models didn’t predict this…

A funny thing happens when you line up satellite and surface temperatures over Australia. A lot of the time they are very close, but some years the surface records from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are cooler by a full half a degree than the UAH satellite readings. Before anyone yells “adjustments”, this appears to be a real difference of instruments, but solving this mystery turns up a rather major flaw in climate models.

Bill Kininmonth wondered if those cooler-BOM years were also wetter years when more rain fell. So Tom Quirk got the rainfall data and discovered that rainfall in Australia has a large effect on the temperatures recorded by the sensors five feet off the ground. This is what Bill Johnston has shown at individual stations. Damp soil around the Stevenson screens takes more heat to evaporate and keeps maximums lower. In this new work Quirk has looked at the effect right across the country and the years when the satellite estimates diverge from the ground thermometers are indeed the wetter years. Furthermore, it can take up to six months to dry out the ground after a major wet period and for the [...]

Australian elections: Left-Greens lose — Weatherill’s revolutionary battery powered state runs out of power

The government running the renewables crash-test-dummy state has lost

In South Australia, Jay Weatherill is gone. Resigned. Tally so far: Libs win 24 seats, Labor 18. Though according to commenters SA voters were choosing between Lite-Left and Hopeless-Left. The new premier will likely be less-bad. Xenophon (small alternate non-establishment player) was crushed. He didn’t side with either Labor or Libs, so voters probably felt they couldn’t afford to sit on the fence and risk more years of Weatherill’s reckless industry-destroying state government.

The Greens are down from 8.7% to 6.6%, a fall of 25% in their popularity. (Not that I could find any news headlines to that effect).

 The message for the soft left:

Chris Kenny: [A Lib win] … will flash a warning to Labor in Victoria, Queensland and Canberra about the perils of ambitious renewable energy targets prioritising climate gestures over electricity affordability and reliability.

 The Libs appear to have made the most of hi-tech analytic campaigning. The Kochs and others in the US have set up i360:

Through i360 the SA Liberals believe they have progressed to a new level of targeted campaigning…  the MP called up a marginal seat, much like [...]

Australia’s secret carbon market is “live” — costs about $7m for the Emissions Trading Scheme we voted against

The first year’s data is out — Australia’s secret Emissions Trading Scheme is up and running, it’s small, inefficient, and pointless, but all the government needs to do is raise those caps, and the carbon trading monster octopus could wrap around on half our economy.

Australian carbon credits are for sale (called ACCU’s), the price was $14-$18 and the total volume was probably around $7 million. This supposed tiny “free market” marvel could not even match the $11/ton price that Abbott’s direct auctions achieved — proving yet again how inefficient economy-wide incentive schemes on essential molecules are. If the caps were raised the price would rocket. (Remember Labor’s carbon price ended up being $5310 per ton.)

What do you mean, you didn’t know Australia had a carbon credit market?

Obviously, you havent been spending your weekends reading the finer points of our legislative instruments. The legislation for this was voted on in the last sitting of Parliament before Christmas of 2015 while Turnbull was a new PM. There was no public debate, no parliamentary discussion and no news coverage of it til May the next year, and it was barely covered at all during the election which occurred the day after [...]

19 out of 20 bats hate Wind Turbines

Pierre Gosselin has found a new study showing bats really don’t want to be around wind turbines. The effect is so strong there are 20 times as many bats around normal comparable sites compared to sites with wind turbines.

I can’t imagine why bats with sensitive acoustic gear don’t like giant infrasonic blades, spinning at 200km per hour and carving a two acre sweep with every turn.

But when a turbine moves into the area, Bat-real-estate values must plummet:

The result of the study demonstrates a large effect on bat habitat use at wind turbines sites compared to control sites. Bat activity was 20 times higher at control sites compared to wind turbine sites, which suggests that habitat loss is an important impact to consider in wind farm planning.

What about the insects?

Since these are insect-eating bats, the next obvious question is whether mosquitoes are 20 times as common around wind turbines, or whether they hate the turbines too.

Has anyone even looked at this? Think of the possibilities: Are wind farms mosquito repellent, or will wind farms help spread dengue fever?

Apparently this was one of the first studies to look closely at the [...]