A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



Australian Speakers Agency


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

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



“Apologizing for the climate scare” — Another Environmentalist joins skeptics


Click to go to Amazon*

UPDATE: The page this links to may or may not be “inactive” at Forbes. Perhaps they’ve run out of electrons? If the article link doesn’t work. Try Google Cache. Web archive. Or Tallblokes PDF.

At some point there will be a rush — a phase change as real environmentalists realize they are being used as useful idiots for multinational giants and Big Bankers. Then there will be a scramble to outgreen the establishment Greens by denouncing some key aspects of false alarm. We’re not there yet. But the Michael Moore documentary is significant and Michael Shellenberger fits a similar mold. We’ll know the moment has arrived when there is more cheering for rather than vitriol against the “traitors”.

Michael Shellenberger was, a long time ago, very Green. Among other things, he was named a Time magazine Heroes of the Environment (2008), winner of the 2008 Green Book Award.  In 2015, Shellenberger joined with 18 other self-described ecomodernists to coauthor An Ecomodernist Manifesto. He’s been shifting through a transition over the years from extreme Green, to pragmatic Green (pro nuclear in 2004, see his TEDX in 2017) and now to a pro-civilization, pro power, anti-alarmist. But seemingly not as far as to become a climate science skeptic?

This is what I mean by extreme Green:

Some people will, when they read this imagine that I’m some right-wing anti-environmentalist. I’m not. At 17, I lived in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinista socialist revolution. At 23 I raised money for Guatemalan women’s cooperatives. In my early 20s I lived in the semi-Amazon doing research with small farmers fighting land invasions. At 26 I helped expose poor conditions at Nike factories in Asia.

He’s seen the light (or perhaps just the data):

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.


How easily bullying and namecalling silences people

At first he didn’t speak because he was embarrassed. Then he was afraid:

…mostly I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.

At least he’s honest:

I even stood by as people in the White House and many in the news media tried to destroy the reputation and career of an outstanding scientist, good man, and friend of mine, Roger Pielke, Jr….

Back in 2004 he was criticized as A radioactive wolf in sheeps clothing. So this is part of a long transition. It’s not like he discovered the wonders of nuclear power last year.

His new book is  Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

Agreeing with the IPCC but disagreeing with their recommendations

His list of points, as he said “from” the IPCC, FAO and IUCN:

  • Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”
  • The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  • Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
  • The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declinedby an area nearly as large as Alaska
  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
  • Carbon emissions have been declining in rich nations for decades and peaked in Britain, Germany and France in the mid-seventies
  • Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor
  • We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
  • Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
  • Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

Lukewarm? Does Shellenberger still think CO2 needs to be reduced?

He’s an energy and policy skeptic, but not necessarily (yet) a skeptic of their science.  He’s called a “science communicator” so we hope takes a hard look at it. As long as junk science rules, we won’t figure out how the climate works, or stop science from being abused and used again for the next scare, and the one after that. I suspect he still thinks CO2 should be reduced.  If I’ve missed it, let me know.

UPDATE: Charles Battig reviews the Shellenberger book  with Michael Moore’s documentary, and Bjorn Lomborg’s new book.

He [Shellenberger] reflects upon his early devotion to environmentalism as a manifestation of an “underlying anxiety and unhappiness in my own life that had little to do with climate change or the state of the natural environment.” It became a quasi-religion offering “emotional relief” and “spiritual satisfaction” for those, like him, who may have lost the guidance of traditional spiritual faiths.

Schellenberg concludes with the observation that “the trouble with the new environmental religion is that it has become increasingly apocalyptic, destructive, and self-defeating.”

American Thinker

It’s easy to be cynical about a slick marketing campaign (which the book promotion certainly is). It’s a tad pompous to apologize on behalf of “environmentalists everywhere”, as if he is a self annointed spokesman, and it means something. At least his book and interviews will open some new eyes, and that can’t be a bad thing.

Here’s hoping he really looks at the science of CO2, not just rehash the options for a different kind of low carbon future.

h/t Another Ian. Charles M. Climate Skepticism. Adam W. John Droz. Eduard H.

* Yes, that’s an affiliate link, and I might get a small commission.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (96 votes cast)

Weekend Unthreaded

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (30 votes cast)

Climate skeptics are terrorists now (the “terror”is talking about coal)

We can tell skeptics are winning by the scale of the panic

Labor made a “big” concession this week and it has triggered the Anti-carbon Tribe. Anthony Albanese dared to concede that coal might have a future but only with impossible fantasy carbon capture limits. In his horror at this, Bernard Keane of puts forward his best scientific argument — essentially that 50% of Australians who don’t hate coal like he does, are ignorant denialist terrorists who vote for pork barrelling representatives who are willing to “blow up their own government”.

As usual, he is projecting his own destructive politics onto those who disagree. He aims to silence debate through personal denigration, to win an argument through character assassination, and to continue being (in his terms) a debate-denialist who pretends that tens of thousands of skeptical engineer’s and geologist’s and meteorologist’s opinions should be mocked and ignored. He’s also a voter-denialist suggesting that the representatives of half of Australia could not possibly represent a genuine point of view. They work as agents of  “Murdoch”.

Bernard Keane promotes the science of tribal namecalling

Bernard Keane,

Labor offers to deal with terrorists in climate wars

The worst possible outcome would be … offering to negotiate:

In offering bipartisanship on energy, Labor is offering to do a deal with the ‘terrorists’ who have thwarted all forms of climate action for years.

Cherry-pick a few hot years, ignore 4.5 billion, and namecall:

After the second hottest year on record globally, the hottest year on record in Australia, our second hottest summer ever after 2018-19, an unprecedentedly catastrophic summer of bushfires and record-breaking Arctic and Antarctic temperatures, Labor has opted to, in effect, surrender on climate to the denialists of the Coalition.

It’s not that Australians voted for people who disagree with Bernard, it’s just a big conspiracy:

By abandoning any interest in a National Energy Guarantee, Anthony Albanese will position Labor as weaker on climate action than Malcolm Turnbull, who at least sought to include both energy security and emissions reduction within his energy policy framework before another right-wing/Murdoch putsch forced him out.

When Labor sends carbon credits to Big Bankers, and giant multinational conglomerates for expensive ineffective methods of carbon reduction, that’s “accepting the science”. When Tony Abbott designs a scheme to pay any business that can reduce carbon cheaply, that’s “pork barrelling”.

In the Coalition’s hands, direct funding ends up being treated as a pork barrel, handed to key supporter groups like farmers, or to its donors.

Like most religious believers, Keane only cares about carbon reduction when it suits his politics. Carbon Capture is useless, but so are carbon emission taxes. Direct funding of carbon reduction reduces carbon at $14 a ton — 300 times more effective per dollar than the Carbon Tax.

For Keane, the point of “carbon taxes” is to send funds to fellow lefty dependents, not to change carbon emissions.

We know how far left Turnbull was because of how much the extreme far left still admire him:

As Malcolm Turnbull correctly put it, these people operate like terrorists, intent on blowing up their own government, with the support of News Corp, if anyone tries to address climate change. You can’t do any sort of deal with them. That merely rewards terrorists.

The people trying to “blow up the government” were the panic merchants who overthrew a 90 seat landslide winner because the ABC told them he was unelectable.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (83 votes cast)

Penguins pretty happy about melting sea ice

Adelie Penguins would probably benefit from a bit of global warming. When 175 were tagged and tracked it turned out that they ate more krill when there was less sea ice. This is not so surprising given that they swim better than they waddle, so long stretches of sea ice make it harder to get to the supermarket and back.

And Krill (dinner) apparently like less sea ice too. Phytoplankton bloomed when the sea ice was gone.

Penguins on sea ice.

Penguins on sea ice.  Photo by Danielle Barnes on Unsplash

Penguins may be an unlikely winner from climate change

Tom Whipple, The Australian

“Counterintuitively for this ice-dependent species, body conditions and breeding success ­improved in the ice-free environment,” wrote researchers from the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research, in the journal Science Advances.

The scientists used accelerometers, video cameras and tracking devices to plot each hunt. They found that when there was no ice the penguins did a lot more swimming — and this was a good thing.

“For penguins, swimming is a whopping four times faster than walking.

For the first three seasons the sea ice was large, then it shrank and the penguins went crazy:

Penguins foraging in sea ice

Fig. 1 Sea-ice conditions and penguin behavior.
(E to H) All foraging trips recorded by GPS loggers for each season. Yellow circles represent the colony.

When sea ice is higher penguins don’t breed as well, and populations are less likely to grow. Though for the 30% of penguins living in the warmer parts of Antarctica, the pattern is the opposite.

Of course, a warmer world may or may not mean more sea ice. For most of the last few decades Antarctic sea ice grew til it reached record highs in 2014-2015. Then during the last few El Nino years Antarctic Sea ice plummeted to record lows, and nobody can figure out why.  If only climate scientists understood the climate.

Whatever happens, it may take a while for Adelie Penguins to die out in Antarctica because there are about 15 million of them. And they are pretty well adapted to climate change since Antarctica was warmer 1,000 years ago, and about 40 other times in the last 10,000 years.

Vostok Antarctica, last 12,000 years.

Vostok Antarctica, last 12,000 years of Interglacial temperature.

But penguins that need a perfect climate are dead.

h/t to Lawrence Solomon.



Watnabe et al (2020) Foraging behavior links sea ice to breeding success in Antarctic penguins, Science Advances  24 Jun 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 26, eaba4828 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba4828

Lüning, S., M. Gałka, F. Vahrenholt (2019): The Medieval Climate Anomaly in Antarctica. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclimatol., Palaeoecol., doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.109251

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (55 votes cast)

Labor in Australia finally gets a message from the voters and “wants to end climate wars”

Labor dumps a bit of green extremism, but it’s mostly symbolic

Anthony Albanese says “Yes” to Coal (only with Carbon Capture) but still “No” to Nukes.  Keeps the same emissions target.

After losing three elections in a row on and with help from SARS-2, the Labor Party have realized they can’t wedge the coalition by being holier-than-all-the-workers that used to vote for them. They can’t be seen as anti-coal. So just in time for a key marginal byelection, Anthony Albanese, leader of the Opposition, offers a token olive leaf.

He’s got his eye on the Queensland election due in October, and all those seats the Labor party lost one year ago.

Anthony Albanese urges Scott Morrison and Coalition to work with Labor on energy policy

Federal Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has urged the Coalition to work with Labor on a bipartisan energy policy…

So Labor will support “development” of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS). This is the impossible idea of stuffing a gas back down the small hole it used to live in, when it was a rock and before it met O2 and grew threefold in weight and 2,000 times in volume.* Everyone in polite society knows it can’t work, but if you have to hate coal and also live with it, CCS is the get-out-of-jail card, where people can pretend that they want to find a low carbon way of burning a fuel made of carbon.

Ultimately the Labor Party are still climate believers with an uncosted zero emission target by 2050.

They probably figure if they get lucky, and the Coalition does create a “scalable” energy plan with them, they can just ramp up the targets on it if they win the election, then say they’re just using the bipartisan plan and “speeding” it up.

It’s not about reducing carbon — it’s about helping the renewables industry

Watch the deck-chairs of Labor desires:

However he said those  [CCS] projects should not be funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) or the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), as recommended by a recent review, arguing support should not be diverted from renewables.

Labor also remains opposed to the Emissions Reduction Fund, which pays organisations to reduce their carbon emissions…

Labor don’t want climate-money paid to friends of the Coalition, meaning farmers or small business owners, it wants money shuffled to renewables companies (friends of Labor). But the farmers and small business owners are reducing carbon at bargain prices compared to multinational Renewable giants.

The Emissions Reductions Fund was Tony Abbott’s direct auction plan, but Big-solar and Big-wind can’t compete with $14 a ton carbon reduction, which is why Albanese wants to funnel the money through other agencies. He says he wants to stop the pork barrelling, but he’d be stopping a successful program in order to send more pork to his friends. Big Renewables need Big Government.

Nukes would be a disaster for the Labor Party, they’d “solve” the climate crisis

Some Coalition MPs have called for the Government to look at establishing a domestic nuclear power industry, but Labor has again made it clear it does not back such a move.

The worst thing for the Labor Party (and the Renewables industry) is if the Coalition managed to get a nuclear plant running in Australia. It would achieve all the carbon reduction that wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and carbon capture could never do.

The National Energy Guarantee — the NEG is dead

The Labor Party has effectively dumped the NEG — which Malcolm Turnbull promoted. It was a hidden carbon tax on electricity generators forcing them to buy international carbon credits – something that suits the Big Bankers and the Big UN. It was designed to be impossible for coal.   It was always a Labor preferred plan — improbably endorsed by Labor, but not the Coalition, reminding us of that old cliche, that Turnbull was the best Leader the Labor Party never had.

The Labor plan has no plan

Energy Minister Angus Taylor criticised Mr Albanese’s speech today at the National Press Club, arguing it left a lot of questions unanswered. “They didn’t explain how their energy policies will create a single job,” he said.

“They didn’t explain how they’re going to bring down prices, how they’re going to keep the lights on, they didn’t explain what their targets were and they didn’t explain how they’re going to achieve those targets.”

The most significant change announced here is that Labor is aiming more for the centre, trying to look less extreme-Green. They’re still pandering to the Green vote, but they are trying in a small way to pander to the struggling Australians and blue collar workers too.

The Coronavirus era has meant people like seeing more bipartisan governments — with some agreement, good manners, and less adversarial nit-picking and demonization. Albanese is trying to look statesmanlike and cooperative. But that’s a lot better than trying to present themselves as smug Guru’s opposing corporate Nazi planet wreckers..

Paul Kelly, The Australian: Albanese’s offer one Morrison must refuse

The Labor leader’s speech and letter to the Prime Minister shows the coronavirus, not the bushfires, is framing climate change policy for Labor — as distinct from the Greens. Albanese is taking Morrison’s success with co-operative politics over COVID-19 and inviting him to achieve “bipartisan agreement” on climate change.

It is a neat but deceptive ploy. There will be no negotiation and no grand bargain. Albanese’s calculation was that if Morrison agreed, that would boost Labor’s “olive branch” credentials; but if Morrison declined, then Labor would have the moral high ground for seeking to repair the great energy policy divide.

Symbolic deck chairs are shaking.


*Calculating the expansion of coal to CO2: 1 ton of Coal generates 2.8 tons of CO2. 1 ton coal fills 0.74m3.  1 ton of CO2 fills 556m3. Therefore, 1 ton of coal expands from 0.74 to 1590m3. or about 2148 times.


VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.9/10 (61 votes cast)

Thursday Open Thread

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.6/10 (10 votes cast)

One in three hospitalized with Covid may be “harmed for life” say UK docs

It is never a good idea to let a mystery virus with likely man-made “Gain of Function” changes run free in the population.

Virus scars for life as doctors warn of long-term health damage

London: One in three patients who recover from COVID-19 could be harmed for life, with long-term damage to their lungs, as well as chronic fatigue and psychological disturbances, research suggests.

Experts said there was growing evidence that the virus could cause persistent or even permanent trauma, including impairment to the brain and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Hilary Floyd, clinical director at the NHS Seacole Centre in Surrey, said she had been shocked by how young many of its patients were. Healthy people who were in their 40s and 50s when the virus struck were now facing long-term fatigue and disability.

“These are people who were independent, they might be running their own business, going to the gym, swimming, active – now they are at the point they can’t get out of bed,” she said.

“We have a couple of patients in their 40s at the moment; we really didn’t expect that. We were expecting them to be older, we have seen a lot in their 50s and 60s, who are really struggling, particularly because their expectation of getting back to normal is much greater.”

The rate is even higher in patients who have been in ICU — perhaps as many as half suffering long term damage.

We won’t know for years what the recovery rate and actual numbers are. The biggest concern appears to be the blood clot damage. But even half of those with asymptomatic covid show some lung damage with blood clots. Some level of this must be repairable.

This story would have been better if there was some attempt to estimate the percentage of total infections that led to this. If 15 – 45% are asymptomatic and if, say, 5% of known infections are hospitalized, that implies long term permanent damage may be around 1.5-2.5% of total infections. Though that assumes that all of the damage in half of the asymptomatic cases can be repaired. That’s still quite a disease  burden.

h/t David B

See also: Asymptomatic covid patients with no symptoms still get lung damage

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.9/10 (44 votes cast)

In the pandemic, investors fled from “Green Energy”. Desperate industry predicts 40 deaths a month in wake

Is that the dark smell of desperation?

Green energy is so essential and profitable that when the chips are down, investors ran a mile.

Wind powerIEA: COVID-19 crisis causing the biggest fall in global energy investment in history

31 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has set in motion the largest drop in global energy investment in history, with spending expected to plunge in every major sector this year—from fossil fuels to renewables and efficiency—the International Energy Agency said in a new report.

The unparalleled decline is staggering in both its scale and swiftness, with serious potential implications for energy security and clean energy transitions.

global investment is now expected to plummet by 20%, or almost $400 billion, compared with last year, according to the IEA’s World Energy Investment 2020 report.

Not only has the money gone, but renewables have been out-competed at the thing they are supposed to do best.

The Global Pandemic is the world’s greatest carbon reduction program since the Black Plague:

Those short-term benefits [of the Coronavirus] have been substantial. Consumption for jet fuel and gasoline, for example, declined by 50 and 30 percent, respectively, from early March to June 7, while electricity demand fell by 10 percent.

Fans of green investments must be feeling squeezed out of the public arena as well as out of investors wallets.

The industry dependent on death threats from climate models has been crushed by real deaths from Coronavirus. Realizing they are in danger of dropping right off the Radar of Death, they have reshuffled advertising memes. The new approach is to convert the usual extinction-extortion into Pandemic-speak, which means trying to compete with the pandemic in deaths per million, or failing that, deaths per month. Remember Coronavirus has killed 476,000 people (so far). But, by saving all the Avgas and petrol, the lockdown is saving, wait for it… “an estimated 200 lives per month”.

So fighting for relevancy, the Green Blob’s new tack is to plead for subsidies and help because if investors don’t keep pushing money into windmills and solar panels, 40 people a month will die:

Under a worst-case — but realistic — scenario, they predict an additional 2,500 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — or the equivalent of nearly 3 trillion pounds of coal burned — could be emitted, causing 40 more deaths per month, through 2035.

 They must be very worried, and so they should be. Humans did the ultimate Paris Lockdown, and CO2 hits record high anyway. The renewables industry is pointless every which way.  It doesn’t make much money, or energy, or save much CO2. The CO2 it does save makes no difference to global CO2, and the global CO2 makes no measureable difference to the climate.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.9/10 (66 votes cast)

Freedom is closed borders, crowd limit now “30,000″

Western Australians will be allowed have 30,000 spectators at the biggest venue in the state this weekend. Phase four means half packed stadiums, nightclubs bars and gyms are all back in action. Venues will be allowed to pack in people to the two square meter rule. Phase five starts July 18th where all rules are dropped, bar two — the state border will stay shut and so will remote indigenous communities.

The state border is the reason nearly everything else within it, is close to normal.

Coronavirus crisis: Stage four of roadmap allows 30,000 fans to attend football at Optus Stadium from this Saturday

 The West Australian: “Big events at these venues can be organised over the next few weeks. Western Australians will hold the largest crowds in the country by far.

Suddenly open borders doesn’t look so appealling to NSW

All states in Australia closed their borders, except for New South Wales and  Victoria. For the last month the states with the most virus to share have been demanding the states without virus open up their borders. But after 160 new infections in Victoria this week, the Premier of NSW is now advising constituents not to visit Melbourne or the hot-spots in Victoria “unless it’s absolutely essential“. Other members of the NSW government are “not ruling out” travel restrictions. Queensland, which was thinking of opening up its borders, is now rethinking. The irony is that if NSW closed borders to Victoria, they might be able to travel everywhere else in Australia so much sooner.

This is the paradox of  border control: the smaller the units, the more expensive it is to impose, but it can be shorter, faster and much more flexible. In the post-covid world, hopefully we will see stronger national borders that can be quickly opened and closed as needed.

In Western Australia closing the borders with an enforced two week quarantine was the most effective virus control, but they weren’t closed soon enough. There was still community spread from unknown sources which meant some domestic restrictions were necessary.

Cases are still arriving from overseas, but they are stopped by the two week quarantine.

Western Australia Infections, Coronavirus, Graph.

In Western Australia closing the borders made the biggest difference. Source: Dept Health WA

According to the graph the last case of unknown source was the 6th of June (which doesn’t sound remotely distant enough to safely start filling stadiums). But it may be a misprint or error, as Health Dept press releases at the time appeared to account for all cases.  About 120,000 tests have been done. Currently there are only about 500 tests a day for Covid in the state at the moment, but test positivity is obviously “low”.

Good luck to Victorians.

Why is almost no one talking about the biggest mistake in national policy for decades? Open Borders.

The News

PS: Tonight on the 7:30 Report was the first time I’d heard anyone (other than me) say say that we should have closed borders earlier. That was former National Treasurer, Peter Costello, just wistfully.  8mins 50.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.4/10 (40 votes cast)

Protest hypocrisy blows away social distancing. How much did that feed second waves?

As lockdown restrictions are released, and social distancing is blown away by riots and rallies, the virus is coming back in some parts.

Victoria gets 25 new cases, cancels “reboot” and ramps up restrictions again

Two weeks after restrictions were partially released and the BLM rallies took place in Melbourne, the surge comes. Actual spread at the BLM rallies is hard to pin down but the rank hypocrisy that allowed the rallies to take place skewered the community commitment to social distancing. With thousands congregating, almost entirely without fines and in breach of the rules, no wonder family gatherings grew. People had given up so much during the lockdown, but indulgent rally organizers could not delay the rallies by another month, or shift them to an online form.

Among a new string of coronavirus cases in Victoria are people who knew they were infected but continued to work and socialise anyway, Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed.   The state will reintroduce restrictions after recording another 25 new coronavirus cases in the past day, with concerns that a second wave of COVID-19 is possible.

Blaming families seems a bit rich given the flagrant disregard shown by protestors and the politicians, academics and journalists that enabled them.

Victoria, Coronavirus graph, June 2020.

Victorian Covid19 infections   |  Click to enlarge   From Wikipedia


The outbreak in Victoria doesn’t look like much of a second wave compared to the first one. Indeed, it doesn’t look much different to the bump on May 5th. But the big difference is that the May 5 bump was largely due to the meatworks cluster, and a couple of others. This latest jump in numbers is more sinister because it is more widely spread and much harder to contact trace.

Other states in Australia may have dodged a bullet if the rallies came after community spread was near zero. Some states appear to be free to rally away.

Readers outside Australia may marvel that 25 new cases qualifies as a problem, but here is a big distance between some community spread and none at all, with 97% of normal life, travel, business and socialization beckoning, as opposed to 20 person limits at restaurants and bars. This will be heartbreaking for some businesses.

By acting fast, hopefully Victoria can join the rest of the country again soon.

Second wave in Florida

Two weeks after reopening the state the numbers are up dramatically. Though testing has doubled since May, so that explains some of the rise, but test-rate positivity has risen too. One expert cites a general fatigue with social distancing and the lack of masks., but there were BLM rallies in Florida too likely skewering the mood for social distancing. Not many people seem to be mentioning that.

Tourists are also arriving. The Republican Governor, who was trumpeting their success a few weeks ago, claims the numbers are up due to extra tests and cluster outbreaks in places like prisons and farms (one watermelon farm has 90 positive tests out of 100). But with 4,000 new cases a day, that’s a lot of clusters.

Richard Luscome, The Guardian

The rise in Florida’s figures, with close to 90,000 cases and deaths surpassing 3,000, comes as the majority of its 67 counties reach the end of the second week of DeSantis’s “safe, smart, step-by-step” reopening plan.

“… experts at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania to conclude that Florida has “all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission”. “

Fortunately, deaths are not rising as quickly at the moment, because the cases are younger.

Florida Second wave, Graph, June 2020

Florida on the second wave   Worldometer USA

As for “more testing” — the rise in the rate of positive tests is very consistent. And the timing doesn’t fit.

Clearly, this is not just an increase in tests.

Florida, tests.

Tests in Florida rose in June, but the rate of testing positive is consistently higher.  Rate of positive tests John Hokins Uni

Molly Olmstead, Slate

Cindy Prins, [an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida]  noted that, anecdotally, a lot of Floridians appear to have given up on wearing masks.

Public health experts are familiar with the phenomenon she is describing: caution fatigue. One of the main reasons experts think Florida avoided a catastrophic epidemic in the first place is because its public began staying home before it was ordered to do so. But now, mentally exhausted after three months of stress, even residents in the hardest-hit parts of the country have grown complacent.

 Second wave in Israel

Israel, Second wave, graph. Worldometer

Israel, second wave.


Israel has gone from 16 cases a day four weeks ago to 250 cases a day now. Hospital wings are reopening. Israeli stocks are falling.

Israel enters second wave, Health Ministry orders corona wings reopened immediately

By David Isaac, World Israel News

“Israel is entering a second wave of the coronavirus illness and we have to take immediate and urgent steps connected to enforcement and to stopping the loosening [of regulations] in order to prevent the need for another lockdown a month from now,” according to an official statement released Saturday evening by Israel’s National Center for Information and Knowledge in the Battle Against the Coronavirus.

The second wave in Israel was seemingly not from foreign travellers, but from within. And strangely, from students. Sigh.

Rina Bassist  Jun 2, 2020

Thousands of students in the towns of Jerusalem, Hadera and Beersheba on June 1 were sent home to isolate after teachers in their schools were diagnosed with the coronavirus. Education Minister Yoav Galant said any school found with active cases of the virus must immediately close down.

Israel’s health authorities are expressing concern in recent days over a surge in coronavirus infections all across the country, especially in schools and preschools. According to recent data, some 5,000 students, teachers and staff are now isolating at home.

One hundred and fifty thousand new cases were recorded around the world (that we know of) each day this weekend.
There were 50,000 in Brazil alone (each day).


Rate of positive tests John Hokins Uni


VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.9/10 (50 votes cast)

Weekend Unthreaded

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.4/10 (17 votes cast)

Asymptomatic covid patients with no symptoms still get lung damage

Results from China, Japan, and USA show that half or more of asymptomatic cases have lung damage

Asymptomatic cases show a weaker immune response. In a small study in China, the asymptomatic cases had a lower, slower immune response, which means they shed virus for longer than the symptomatic cases, perhaps even as long as 14 days. Though the presence of viral RNA does not necessarily mean they can infect other people. It may be fragments of the whole virus.

Covid lung CT scan

a, CT scan of a 45-year-old female showing focal ground-glass opacities in the lower lobe of the left lung (arrow). b, CT scan of a 50-year-old female showing ground-glass opacities and stripes coexisting in the lower lobe of the right lung (arrows).

Below, a Scripps review found the rate of lung damage was as high as 70% of asymptomatic cases. Both these studies are small, non randomized, retrospective studies.

It’s not surprising that people might not notice that their lungs were underperfoming. We have so much extra lung capacity for day to day living that many people don’t notice damage.  In cases of lung cancer, people are often not diagnosed until they are in an advanced late stage.  Presumably, humans hardly ever push their lungs to the limit now, so we don’t notice if they are not performing at peak.

What Does Asymptomatic COVID-19 Look Like Under the Surface?

Molly Walker, MedPage

Asymptomatic individuals carrying SARS-CoV-2 shed the virus longer than those with COVID-19 symptoms, with other lab findings suggesting the symptomatic patients mounted more robust immune responses, a small study in China found.

Virus-specific IgG antibody titers and cytokine levels were also significantly lower among asymptomatic patients in the acute phase of infection, when viral RNA can be found in respiratory specimens, the authors wrote in Nature Medicine — both of which indicated that immune responses weren’t as strong in the asymptomatic group.

For the study, they examined data from 178 patients with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in the Wanzhou District in China, including 37 without symptoms. Median age in the latter was 41, and 22 were women.

Lab tests show there was lung damage in just over half the group, inflammation (CRP), and there was some liver damage (ALT):

Lab values and imaging were not entirely normal for the asymptomatic group. Eleven had increased C-reactive protein levels (CRP) and six had elevated levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Chest CT found “focal ground-glass opacities” in 11 and “stripe shadows and/or diffuse consolidation” in another 10 of the group; in two-thirds of these 21 patients, the abnormalities were in only one lung. The remaining 16 showed entirely normal imaging.

Antibody levels fell faster in asymptomatic people

In the early convalescent phase, defined as 8 weeks after hospital discharge, symptomatic patients had higher IgG levels, though both groups experienced over 90% decreases in IgG levels. A larger proportion of asymptomatic patients had decreases in neutralizing serum antibody levels versus symptomatic patients (81.1% vs 62.2%, respectively).

These findings should serve as a caution against assuming prior infection confers immunity to future infection, Qiu and colleagues said.

A Scripps study out a few days ago also suggests in people with no symptoms, Coronavirus may be damaging lungs. When they did a CT scan of asymptomatic people on the Diamond Princess, as many as 70% showed some lung damage.

CT Scans show lung injury in asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19

The authors also conclude that the absence of symptoms may not imply an absence of harm. CT scans conducted on 54% of 76 asymptomatic individuals on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, appear to show significant subclinical lung abnormalities, raising the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 infection impacting lung function that might not be immediately apparent. The scientists say further research is needed to confirm the potential significance of this finding.

CT = Computed Tomography.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.5/10 (39 votes cast)

SA: Still at risk of blackout, one third of solar PV “switching off” to save state, needs $1.5b interconnector bandaid to NSW

Transmission lines, interconnectors. Photo MArcus Wongm

A $1,500 million dollar emergency line  is needed to rescue South Australia from renewable blackouts.  Image: Marcus Wong Wongm


Why do so few see the enormous subsidy cost of keeping the South Australian electricity experiment alive?

Having got too much intermittent, unreliable electricity, the state is still in danger of another statewide blackout. One third of the solar panels on homes are being switched off automatically because the electricity they provide is not just useless, but dangerous. What the state needs is baseload power, but the solution we’re told is to spend another incredible $1.5billion dollars on an interconnector with NSW, presumably so SA gets a lifeline to the reliable coal power in Queensland.

That’s a $1,500,000,000 repair bill for an unreliable system that cost a fortune to build, but is unsustainable without a giant bandaid.

Price rises coming in NSW and QLD:

As more unreliable generation and random green electrons infect the NSW and Qld grids, their cheap baseload providers will also find it harder to compete. The increased downtime will chew out some of their profit margins, but their costs will be almost the same. So, as sure as the sun rises, they will have to raise their charges during the shorter profitable time they operate. Thus costs for electricity per kilowatt hour will rise in NSW and QLD thanks to the increase in useless electricity coming from SA.

The subsidized interconnectors will make property developers and renewables investors happy though. They will profit from the giant transmission lines, paid for by hapless consumers. The new lines will open up vast arid zones where land is cheaper and investors can now afford to build a few more solar and wind plants that were otherwise uneconomic.

Instead of spending $1.5b to subsidize renewables, SA could afford 5 new gas power plants, or could put it towards a new HELE coal plant which would make industry and manufacturing affordable again in the post covid world.

Lest we forget, as I keep saying –there was a cheaper option: Not long back, Port Augusta had a thirty-one year old coal plant generating 520MW.  The Premier could have spent $30 million to keep it going.

Imagine having 1.47 billion dollars to spare to help the nation recover economically? Could have been handy.

SA power link with NSW to avoid blackouts

Emily Cozenza, The West Australian

The South Australian government wants to prevent further statewide power blackouts by developing an interconnector with New South Wales.

Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the interconnector was critical to the long-term security of SA’s electricity system.

“We are still at a real risk of another statewide blackout. We have identified the problem, we’ve asked for expert advice and we’re going to follow that,” he said.

278,000 solar panels on homes threaten to dump too much electricity on the SA grid.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said an area of concern was that the amount of electricity going into the grid from the 278,000 homes with solar panels could outweigh what was drawn out. “We’re not far away from that. That could create a statewide blackout.

“Up to one-third of all (solar) inverters used in SA have already been cutting themselves off in response to voltage changes. We weren’t aware of that so we’re going to fix that.

Despite getting subsidies and being the cause of the problem, Solar Citizens Campaigner Stephanie Gray, said that curtailing the solar panels needed to be the “last option”. Solar home owners have no idea what a burden their panels are on other electricity consumers. Until the media, or some politicians start to discuss that awkward fact, solar panels owners will remain in the dark and continue to insist on more subsidies and bigger handouts.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (102 votes cast)

Friday Open Thread

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (16 votes cast)

Despite pandemic China increases coal production, has 5,000 coal mines, and a glut of new plants

Due to the pandemic fully eighty percent of China’s economy ground to a halt in February, but even despite that — coal use still grew in China by 0.9% in 2020. Another nine billion more tons of coal was discovered in 79 northern regions. And China has as much coal generation being built or planned as the USA has in total.

The numbers are still the conversation stoppers they always were. Ponder that China uses half the worlds coal. While the USA closed 32 GW of coal plants over the last two years, China added 43 GW just last year.

China has promised a few meaningless deck-chair-type vows which it then ignores anyway. The government vowed to cut the number of coal mines,  as if that matters. It’s just closing the smaller less efficient mines and opening larger ones instead. As it happens, the number of coal mines was 3,373 in 2018 but now China is aiming just to cap it at 5,000.

Talk of reducing coal use is still just a performance for the West. Two years ago China was caught building coal plants that it said it had abandoned.

China outlines coal capacity plan for 2020

Argus media, June 18th

The Chinese government has outlined a plan aiming to make its coal industry more efficient by continuing to reduce “outdated” production capacity, while simultaneously raising capacity in major producing regions.

A batch of “outdated” mines should be shut permanently this year, China’s main economic planning agency NDRC said in a document released today to reduce the number of coal mines to no more than 5,000. This will help raise production at major mines so that they account for more than 96pc of national output this year.

Right at the end we find that even despite the major pandemic crash that is 2020, Chinese coal production is up nearly 1%.

China’s national coal production reached 1.47bn t during January-May, according to the national bureau of statistics, up by 0.9pc from the same period last year.

Do these numbers mean anything?

Surging coal use in China threatens global CO2 goals

Benjamin Storrow, E&E News reporter

 China consumes more than half the world’s coal. Today, it has almost as much new coal generation in planning or construction (206 gigawatts) as the United States has in operation (235 GW at the end of 2019).

But no country matches China’s appetite for new coal. The country added 43 GW of new coal capacity last year, up from 32 GW in 2018, according to Global Energy Monitor. Almost 100 GW is under construction and another 105 GW is either permitted or applying for permits. China permitted nearly 8 GW of new coal plant construction between March 1 and March 18, or more than the 6.3 GW permitted in all of 2019.

By comparison, the United States has retired 32 GW of coal capacity since 2017, according to an E&E News analysis of federal statistics. America last built a coal plant in 2015.

Australia can’t even add one new 2GW coal plant. China effectively added twenty times as much.

A glut of new coal-fired power stations endangers China’s green ambitions

The Economist, May 21st 2020 (paywalled)

China is home to half the world’s coal-fired power stations, the most polluting type of generator. Their share of the country’s electricity market is shrinking as nuclear plants and renewables slowly elbow them off the grid. But Chinese investors and local governments are still keen on them. Last year coal-fired generating capacity expanded in China by 37GW (factoring in plant closures)—more than the amount by which it grew globally.

China has been relaxing curbs on building such plants. That suggests more to come.

How about those Paris agreement pledges?

Coal use was growing at 5 or 6% a year…

China boosts coal mining capacity despite climate pledges

Reuters, From March 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China added 194 million tonnes of coal mining capacity in 2018, data from the energy bureau showed on Tuesday, despite vows to eliminate excess capacity in the sector and to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

However, the total amount of coal mines in China declined to 3,373 in 2018 from 3,907 in 2017, the NEA said in the statement, as Beijing has been phasing out small and ineffective coal mines in eastern regions and expanding capacity in the west

China produced 3.55 billion tonnes of coal in 2018, up 5.2 percent from a year ago, while generating 4.979 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity from coal-fired power plants, up 6 percent from the 2017 level, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

So much for those vows.


VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.6/10 (47 votes cast)