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

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper




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

Playing politics with every disaster: Vanuatu cyclone blamed on “climate change”

So far 24 are confirmed dead in Vanuatu, a figure that seems likely to rise.  About 100,000 are homeless, according to the local Oxfam director, which, if accurate, is an awful lot in a country of 270,000. There is no doubt the nation needs help.

Despite the pressing need to solve immediate problems, the predictable claims are already starting. How many journalists will bother to check these claims against the history of cyclones in Vanuatu?  Accuweather lists a lot, including one in 1951 that killed 100 people when CO2 levels were just 311ppm. In 1987 another storm killed 48.

President Baldwin Lonsdale is blaming “climate change”.

Pacific nations regard themselves as at the frontline of climate change, given many are low-lying islands dangerously exposed to rising sea levels, and Lonsdale said changing weather patterns were partly to blame for the destruction.

“Climate change is contributing to the disaster in Vanuatu,” Lonsdale told reporters in Japan, saying rain had been unusually heavy this year.

Even President Hollande, host of the Paris UNFCCC later this year, is milking this disaster: “…the cyclone “is a new cry for the international community to take seriously its responsibility in the fight against climate change, which primarily affects the most vulnerable.”

President Lonsdale went on to talk about the destruction, but probably wasn’t thinking about what his comments mean about his government building programs:

“After all the development we have done for the last couple of years and this big cyclone came and just destroyed… all the infrastructure the government has… built. Completely destroyed.” — Canberra Times

Vanuatu is regularly hit with cyclones. Could be time to reassess the building codes?

Here’s the effect of CO2 on South Pacific cyclones. If it is driving this trend, clearly we need more CO2.

Number and intensity of Cyclones in the South Pacific | Source: Met Service Blog

President Lonsdale could be forgiven for being confused, but others should know better.


Scientists Mashable contacted said the storm intensified rapidly before hitting Vanuatu, aided by an area of unusually mild ocean waters and favorable atmospheric conditions. Ocean temperatures in the area where the cyclone intensified were up to 2 degrees Celsius above average for this time of year (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Some — but not all — of the sea surface temperature anomalies in the Southwest Pacific Ocean are likely related to global warming, according to Kevin Trenberth, a climate researcher with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, as well as other experts. According to Trenberth, about about 0.6 degrees Celsius, or 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit, of the ocean temperature anomalies “can be blamed on human-induced global warming” while the rest is “natural”…

 Trenberth apparently can look at this noise (below) and see that CO2 is to blame for 0.6C of the 2C anomaly. His models can’t get the global average right, but they have insight on this tiny scale…

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (73 votes cast)

Kingsman — a movie where the villain is a climate change megalomaniac

The movie came out in December (I’m way behind the times). It appears most of the audience had a rollicking good time at a spy movie where the evil villain “Valentine” had the ultimate genocidal carbon reduction plan. It was murder-to-save-the-planet.

Perhaps the leading edge of Hollywood has finally arrived? This can’t be good for the forces of freeloading. Someone shot the sacred cow, and though they did it quietly with no bragging or boasting, the crowd rewarded them.

From Mark Steyn’s review a few weeks ago:

Valentine is tired of giving money to politicians for action on climate change and nothing happening. He loves the planet and man is destroying it. So he’s concluded that the only solution is to eliminate the vast majority of mankind, leaving only those pre-selected individuals he’s invited to his mountain lair to re-emerge when the dust settles to live on a now Edenic earth cleansed of what he calls its “virus” – man.

This actually makes way more sense than the average Bond villain’s plan. Indeed, it makes so much sense that the pajama boy at Vox isn’t too sure who to root for. I mean, why would Colin Firth and the good guys even bother saving the world “only so it can be destroyed decades later” (by global warming)?

Steyn had a lot of fun with the confusion of the critics who laughed at the villain but knew they weren’t supposed too. He compared the boundary pushing Kingsman with the predictability of “The Day After Tomorrow”.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.9/10 (60 votes cast)

Fellow, Michael Kelly says The Royal Society must not hide uncertainty of climate

Another excellent job by the UK Daily Mail.

Professor Michael Kelly, Fellow of the Royal Society, was one of the 43 who protested back in 2010 at the Royal Society’s climate change position. (Read up on the Rebellion of the 43 at the GWPF p32.) They felt the Royal Society was breaking its own motto: motto ‘Nullius in verba’ – or ‘Don’t take another’s word for it; check it out for yourself’. Now five years later, Michael Kelly gives us an update, and he fears things are worse: “... since then the Society has become more, not less dogmatic – despite the fact that since we sent that letter, it has become evident that there is even more uncertainty than previously thought.”

Why my own Royal Society is wrong on climate change: A devastating critique of world’s leading scientific organisation by one of its Fellows

His main point is that the Royal Society is not giving balanced information about the uncertainties and model failures. (It’s the same pattern of telling us half truths, while hiding the bombs, that we see in the BBC and the ABC, and “love media”.) Kelly argued that Society ought to distance itself from levels of certainty which could not be justified.

Real scientists put forward everything they know that is relevant. As Kelly says: “Those who fail to provide balance are not giving advice, but lobbying.”

The great 20th Century physicist, Richard Feynman, wrote in his autobiography: ‘Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can – if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong – to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it.’ This the Royal Society has failed to do.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (112 votes cast)

Be afraid for your red wine and steak now!

Extra carbon dioxide is the wonder fertilizer that has greened deserts and created a global crop boom, but don’t think for a moment that just because plants love CO2 that more of it won’t be an utter disaster come to wreck your dinner!  Yet again, we are at the tipping point, and everything is just about to fall apart. How unlucky can one planet be! “There are few winners”.

Wouldn’t you know it –  the current rainfall and frost patterns are perfect? But soon you will sweat like a pig, have poorer bread, and heat stressed steak. Worse, you may have to eat more olives and mangoes and drink Merlot from … a different region. This is serious, folks: when a cyclone hits the North West of Australia, some West Australians may even have to eat Queensland bananas.

Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald, “investigates” the news that another government agency has written another long, dire report with prophecies of doom. But unlike the past incompetent exaggerated beat-ups, this one (finally) is going to be right, so he doesn’t bother asking hard questions, or interviewing other experts, or even doing a Google search.

“Hotter, harder times forecast for the farm as climate changes food production”

Australia’s agricultural sector faces profound challenges from climate change over coming decades forcing the migration of some crops and the use of new varieties of others, a new report by the University of Melbourne researchers.

After all, the Earth is a lot like a factory farm with not much natural air flow:

Belying the phrase, “sweating like a pig”, these animals don’t have sweat glands are particularly sensitive to heat. As evidence of their vulnerability, about 500 pigs reportedly died at a piggery near the NSW Riverina town of Grong Grong one weekend last month when a ventilation system failed.

Weak wheat is coming:

Whereas rising carbon dioxide levels assists plant growth – the so-called fertilisation effect – the benefits are curtailed if there is insufficient water, phosphorous, nitrogen and other nutrients. Wheat, for instance, may increase in quantity but have lower levels of protein.

Effectively CO2 fertilizer produces slightly more carbohydrate in your carbohydrate foods. In the West, hardly anyone eats wheat for its protein content, because we have beef, KFC, and fish and chips instead. I calculated the effects of low protein wheat and rice on the world’s poor  and showed that to compensate for 100 g of “diluted” rice, they would need to eat one whole extra 2.6g chick pea.

Peter Hannam dishes up the big insights of Prof Eckard.

“The federal government’s really behind the eight-ball on this because they are playing politics,” Professor Eckard said.

Golly. Imagine politicians playing politics.

I guess we need our pollies to do science instead, because some government scientists don’t seem to be very good at it.

Eckard goes on:

“If you can disentangle climate change from the politics, we’d be so much better off.”

Exactly. Let’s get the political activists out of science and out of the media. No more junk journalists who cheer on illogical, deficient predictions from witchdoctors of doom.

 John McLean writes to me:

Hannan says “Australia’s average temperatures have increased 0.9 degrees since 1910, with the rise of greenhouse gases contributing to the warming, the CSIRO and the bureau said. By 2030, temperatures will increase by 0.6-1.3 degrees on 1986-2005 averages, and as much as 5.1 degrees by 2090 if emissions remain on a high trajectory of growth.”

Hasn’t he looked at the latest CSIRO report and realised that 39 of the 40 CIMP5 climate models that it relied upon are all in the list of models in the latest IPCC report and about which the IPCC said (in the WGI Summary for Policymakers and elsewhere ) …

- 111 of 114 climate models runs predicted greater warming for the period 1998 to 2012 than the temperature data indicates
- “some” models “over-estimate” the influence of greenhouse gases
- the exact reasons for the flawed predictions are unknown.


But I’d like to thank the SMH for reminding me that  Earth Hour is coming next Sunday at 8.30pm to Australia.

Think about how you can use the Power Hour to celebrate electricity.

Plan now for your 5000W BBQ!

h/t Pat in comments and Mike S and John McLean

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (58 votes cast)

Weekend Unleaded…


VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.1/10 (15 votes cast)

Scientific American: black death and slavery cause the little ice age?

Looks like Scientific American has gone a bit “cosmic”: The Little Ice Age was apparently caused by black death, small pox, and slavery. The theory goes that there was a small spikey dip in CO2 levels in 1610, which was man-made. So hold your breath, that means a whole new era should start from then. This small dip of dubious causality, plus the correlation of oddly unclimatic things like slavery, seems to make the spike worthy of an impressive sciencey title, lo, a new era is born  — The start of the Anthropocene.

Let’s not mention that temperatures started falling from 1400 AD. That’s 200 years  before the CO2 spike down. Cause and effect are so passe in postmodern science.

Mass Deaths in Americas Start New CO2 Epoch

Scientific American:

The atmosphere recorded the mass death, slavery and war that followed 1492. The death by smallpox and warfare of an estimated 50 million native Americans—as well as the enslavement of Africans to work in the newly depopulated Americas—allowed forests to grow in former farmlands. By 1610, the growth of all those trees had sucked enough carbon dioxide out of the sky to cause a drop of at least seven parts per million in atmospheric concentrations of the most prominent greenhouse gas and start a little ice age. Based on that dramatic shift, 1610 should be considered the start date of a new, proposed geologic epoch—the Anthropocene, or recent age of humanity—according to the authors of a new study.

In any climate astrology it is important to have a hockeystick graph. I know of no global proxy that produces a temperature graph like this. But it’s easy to get this shape by comparing smoothed low res old proxies to high resolution modern adjusted thermometers. It’s just a really bad way to do science. I want the same proxy from start to end. Give me the modern temperature in tree rings or clam shells or sediments, but let’s stop pretending there are no proxies left on Earth after 1980. Has Earth ran out of mud, trees, corals or shells, or do those “modern” proxies give the wrong answer?

120 Northern Hemisphere proxies show the world was as warm as now 1000 years ago.


See how CO2 dipped in 1610. Note how temperature didn’t.


The whole theory rests on the “coincidence” of a CO2 dip of 7ppm in 1610 with the depth of the Little Ice Age, er, apparently 180 or so years later (according to their graph). Greenhouses gases can absorb infra red at the speed of light, and they drive the climate, we just don’t see the correlation, right? Yeah, baby.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (67 votes cast)

Climate Skeptics, ISIS — What’s the difference?

Just another day in a science debate, right?

One side of a scientific theory, are generally bully boys  conducting witchhunts, wishing of execution, joking about chopping off heads, and thinks it’s funny to mock explode children of dissenters. This is the same side who wants to force us pay billions to change the weather. They dehumanize their critics with relentless petty names that imply they have no rational brain. When their lauded hero professor can’t convince the crowd with reasoned arguments, he discusses using industrial sabotage and destruction to get the message across. Go blow up a dam to save the planet?

The other side are upstanding scientists.

Pat Bagley, the Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist, has things a little mixed up.

“Anti-Scientists.”   A cropped section of Pat Bagley’s cartoon | Salt Lake Tribune

See the full cartoon on CAGLE CARTOONS

Artists used to pride themselves on being a thorn in the side of authority. In the topsy turvey world of “climate science” they instead attack the volunteers fighting corruption and incompetence, and help the industrial green machine, global financial houses, and ever-bigger government (or if you like, respectively the environmental, financial, and political authorities).

Someone should let Pat Bagley know (in the politest possible way). The best cartoonists — the funniest ones who hit a nerve are the ones who know what they are talking about.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.4/10 (74 votes cast)

“Merchants of Doubt” bombs at box office

“Merchants of Doubt” — the new attack-umentory released last week — has been a box-office bomb. Even the anti-carbon activists can’t be bothered watching the rehashed malevolent fantasy speculation about the scientists who dared stand against the establishment.

Jim Lakely at Heartland reports that total takings were $23,300 last weekend.

It uses 20 year old documents to absurdly try to tie the smoking campaign to the climate debate. Oreskes fights on the side with billions of dollars but tries to paint herself the victim of intimidation. No one is buying it. The Merchants of Doubt is an unwitting self projection of her own obsession trying to sell doubts about honest, upstanding scientists.

Fred Singer got his PhD in 1948 on cosmic ray showers. His thesis committee included J. Robert Oppenheimer and Niels Bohr. I’d like to see Fred Singer discuss atmospheric physics with Naomi. Bring on the debate that matters and let the smear campaign get all it deserves.



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.5/10 (132 votes cast)

Want to save tax and “save the world” from carbon? No Thanks say 92% of Swiss

These results are devastating for the carbonistas. In the lead-up to Paris, every time someone suggests “there is momentum”, remind them of this Swiss result. The majority of western populations do not want serious climate action, they don’t want to pay more for energy, and countries are not “picking up the carbon challenge”.

The Greens in Switzerland asked the Swiss to dump the VAT tax and replace it with a “carbon tax”. It would (in theory) mean  Swiss people could pay less tax overall, and save the environment at the same time. Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund endorsed it, and 92% of Swiss people rejected it.

Swiss Voters Reject Initiative to Replace VAT System With Carbon Tax

Roughly 92% of voters opposed the initiative, known as “Energy Rather than VAT,” while 8% supported the measure, according to preliminary results from 13 of the country’s 26 cantons.

The Swiss cabinet had recommended voters reject the proposal because it would likely have caused a falloff in revenue for the federal government. The current VAT tax, which ranges from 2.5% to 8%, generated income of 22.6 billion Swiss francs ($22.92 billion) for the federal government in 2013, according to government data.

Presumably if the Swiss government thought the carbon tax would bring in more money, they would have felt a lot more like they needed to save the world.

Since the voters rejected it there are a few ways to look at this:

One: Voters cared about carbon but didn’t believe the government about paying less tax.

Two: Voters didn’t believe the government about the tax or the carbon.

Three: Voters thought they might pay less tax but saw that the Greens and Greenpeace were behind it… ;-)

Any which way the fans-of-climate-action look at this, it is a disaster. If this were a minor online poll suggesting “most” people want climate action, the NY Times would be on it, as would Reuters. But ask 4 million Swiss voters and put money on the table, and it’s not really news. It was the second biggest “fail” in Swiss history of voting.

Some still report the news: Wall St Journal

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (90 votes cast)

BoM Forum Panel: one-day-wonder. Rigorous as Annual Cakes and Tea Jamboree

Last August the BoM were feeling the heat — Graham Lloyd at The Australian and skeptics, particularly Jennifer Marohasy, were asking why cooling trends were being revised to warming trends at stations with no recorded moves. People were raising eyebrows at embarrassing questions about why the Bureau thought climate change was all-critical, yet they were tossing out historic Stevenson-screen data. The BoM felt so squeezed they finally answered some basic questions they’d been ignoring for years (like details on Rutherglen).

But the pressure kept growing because nobody needs a degree in Meteorology to know that there ought to be a reason for fiddling with historic thermometer data. The dumb punters were not impressed with the excuse that stations “might” have moved because tricky statistics on other stations 300km away detected an “unrecorded shift”. So the BoM and their apologist friends in The Dept of Environment dusted off a 3 year old idea called a Technical Advisory Forum, pulled out some names of respectable sounding statisticians and “voila” — created a one day wonder. The “technical forum” will spend more time releasing press releases than analyzing data.

On Jan 19th we were promised so much. The full gloss press release ticks all the right keywords:

The establishment of this Forum will provide an independent framework for quality assurance tests and analysis of the Bureau’s data sets for greater transparency.

Blah blah blah. Finally the Terms of Reference are out, and we can see the meat: a new ultra thin variety of Nano-Spam.

The Forum will meet all its goals and peer reviewed angels will sing, if it … “provides comment”. It’s hard to imagine all those academics saying absolutely nothing, so I’m expecting it to be declared a complete and rigorous success. It is bound to be “world’s best practice” because the rest of the world is dismal too. No bureau anywhere ever publishes all the information, all the historic data, and all the details of their mystery homogenie which transforms past temperatures with a cold wand.  The comprehensive and in-depth extent of the panel is such that “Forums will run over one day, every year.” (Don’t scoff, it is a whole day which has a morning and an afternoon, and they have different agendas. So this is extended “Tea and Cakes” — there is even lunch). All the pre-reading materials will be given to the members at least “a fortnight” beforehand.

Jennifer Marohasy wrote to Bob Baldwin today expressing her disapproval. She describes the pointless forum as Like Expecting George Pell to Admit Pedophilia During Sunday Sermon.

As she so rightly says, the Church of the B0M hath spoken, and no dissidents will be heard.


Dear Mr Baldwin

Re: Robust assessment of the trusted and respected Bureau of Meteorology obviously requires that the dissident view be heard

There once existed a broad consensus that the Church must be the ultimate judge of scientific truths.  That was before the enlightenment.  More recently, there was an equally mistaken consensus that the Church could provide a safe environment for little children.

Those who dared suggested otherwise were first ignored, then ridiculed, and only much later able to fight for truth and justice.   When their concerns finally registered, there was disbelief that such outrageous abuse was allowed to persist for so long.

In your recent appointment as ‘Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment’ with responsibility for the Bureau of Meteorology, you have the opportunity to provide a forum for dissident voices to be heard concerning what is perceived by many to be the bastardization of Australia’s temperature record.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.1/10 (123 votes cast)