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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Gallup poll: Voters rank “climate change” last

Despite rallies in New York, despite the relentless propaganda, the people just don’t seem to be scared anymore. In the latest Gallup Poll, Climate Change is ranked 13th out of 13 issues. As the strident messages of doom roll out, 60% of the public simply don’t believe what the professors are telling them. Science has lost a lot of its aura and credibility.

The US midterm elections are nearly here, yet the poll shows that Democrats have clear advantages in areas that … not many people care about. A victim perhaps of their success in adopting the smug concerns of inner city university graduates?

Items to the right are considered more important.

Keep reading  →

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Ebola is potentially airborne

I’ve been watching Ebola with concern. I hoped we’d have more time. We can still gain control but every week matters. What we do now will be so much easier than what we have to do if we leave it to run.

The summary: The WHO warns that there may be 10,000 new cases a week in West Africa by early December. Can you imagine trying to set up new beds to cope with that each week? Meanwhile the Centre for Infectious Disease Research has advised the CDC that the evidence suggests some airborne spread of Ebola is occurring, which may explain the toll on health workers. Sadly a second health-worker has also been infected with Ebola in Texas (and she was on flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas the day before – the CDC wants passengers to call.).  Sixteen members of Doctors without Borders have been afflicted, and nine have died. That team deserves medals more help.

There are different versions of airborne infections, hopefully this is in the “only just airborne” category. Just being barely airborne is not the same as, say, being spread like measles. Nonetheless, the game has changed. Healthworkers need even more serious, much more expensive masks.

Update to clarify: There is a spectrum of  “airborne spreadability”, and it may be that the virus has not suddenly changed, but has been spreading slightly through an airborne mechanism for months. If that is the case, the new awareness is good news and will help.  As reader Lawrence Cooper points out, it’s rare or even unknown for viruses to transform completely from one form of transmission to another. On the other hand it’s well known that the evolution of viruses will generally make them less deadly, but easier to spread. This is what I’m talking about. With mortality running at 70%, there is still a lot of room to reduce the death rate but ultimately kill a lot more people. There is some very ugly maths under those curves. Evolution is inevitable: more infections means more mutations. Virologists are debating it here.

We are very fortunate the virus doesn’t spread until people show symptoms. There don’t seem to be pockets of new mysterious outbreaks that spring up unexplained, which would happen if the virus was truly airborne. But it was very odd that healthworkers in close contact to patients and in protective gear were getting sick so often.

On the plus side, the outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal may get cleared as officially over by October 20. Those two countries appear to have overcome their outbreaks. At least one epidemiologist departing Liberia sees hope for controlling the infection in the region where it first broke out. There is hope, but very little time to get control in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Also on the plus side, there are several promising vaccines in development, which I feel optimistic about (trials have started though delays are frustrating). Blood from survivors contains antibodies that could save people, and seem to be helping the nurse in Texas (I wonder why aren’t we doing more of this for health-care workers everywhere?). Mark Zuckerberg has donated $25 million to the Ebola cause. Good on him.

Right  now, the most useful thing we can do is help our bureaucrats to understand how fast this could get beyond control.  This is about making sure there is not a modern plague. We can do it, but we need to do it in Africa. The Ro (Reproduction number) is estimated to be between 1.5 and 2.2 at the moment. If we can bring the Ro down below one, the disease will most likely gradually fizzle out. Simple measures can still make a big difference in a land where doctors are rare.

It’s Airborne:  Breitbart reports

Medical Research Org CIDRAP: Ebola Transmittable by Air

The highly respected  Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota just advised the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) that “there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles,” including exhaled breath.

CIDRAP is warning that surgical facemasks do not prevent transmission of Ebola, and healthcare professionals (HCP) must immediately be outfitted with full-hooded protective gear and powered air-purifying respirators.

CIDRAP since 2001 has been a global leader in addressing public health preparedness regarding emerging infectious diseases and bio-security responses. CIDRAP’s opinion on Ebola virus is there are “No proven pre- or post-exposure treatment modalities;” “A high case-fatality rate;” and “Unclear modes of transmission.”

10,0000 new cases a week by December The Guardian:

WHO warns 10,000 new cases of Ebola a week are possible

UN agency says fatality rate at 70% and that ‘a lot more people will die’ unless world steps up its response to crisis

The Ebola outbreak could grow to 10,000 new cases a week within two months, the World Health Organisation warned on Tuesday as the death toll from the virus reached 4,447 people, nearly all of them in west Africa.Dr Bruce Aylward, the WHO assistant director-general, told a news conference in Geneva that the number of new cases was likely to be between 5,000 and 10,000 a week by early December.

WHO’s regular updates show that deaths have resulted from 4,447 of the 8,914 reported cases, but Aylward said that any assumption that the death rate was 50% would be wrong. He put the death rate at 70% because many deaths are not reported or recorded officially.

Where detailed investigations have been carried out, it was clear that only 30% of people were surviving, he said, adding that the figure was almost exactly the same in the three hardest hit countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. “This is a high-mortality disease in any circumstances but particularly in these places,” said Aylward.

The toll on Doctors without Borders JEMS:

These people are angels.

16 Members of Doctors Without Borders Infected with Ebola, Nine Dead

Workers have had inadequate help from international community
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — International aid organization Doctors Without Borders said that 16 of its staff members have been infected with Ebola and nine of them have died.

JEMS Ebola Outbreak Coverage

Speaking at a press conference in Johannesburg Tuesday, the head of Doctors Without Borders in South Africa Sharon Ekambaram said medical workers have received inadequate assistance from the international community.

“Where is WHO Africa? Where is the African Union?” said Ekambaram who worked in Sierra Leone from August to September. “We’ve all heard their promises in the media but have seen very little on the ground.”

Four of the organization’s medical workers who had just returned from Sierra Leone and Liberia said they were frustrated, “chasing after the curve of the outbreak,” according to Jens Pederson, the aid organization’s humanitarian affairs adviser.

“To manage Ebola is not rocket science. It’s very basic infection control and very basic protection of staff,” said Pederson who said clean water, chlorine and soap were enough to disinfect an affected area.


2nd health care worker tests positive for Ebola at Dallas hospital

A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for Ebola, health officials said Wednesday — casting further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees.

The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated, health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said.

The preliminary Ebola test was done late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and the results came back around midnight. A second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

I’ll be back to add images and  more information, and as much good news as I can find.

Matt Ridley wrote a good article in The Australian. “Beat Ebola or face a pandemic as bad as the Black Death “

Sources: US Dept of Health  — Information  | Science Mag | Clinical features | Genome Ebola Portal | Timeline | Projection  | CDC on Ebola | Twitter #ebola |

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Global warming dumps late snow in Australia. Fires one year. Flood the next.

A major stormfront in NSW has dropped 170mm on rain on Ulladulla, ploughed down trees, drove waves 8m high onshore, and put the airport underwater in Sydney. It has carpeted the Blue Mountains in 20cm of snow. 30,000 homes lost electricity and 60 people were stuck in a train for two hours. This time last year the region was burning. Amazing photos at the Daily Mail.

Proof of man-made global warming…

h/t to Eric Worrall and Waxing Gibberish.

Image (Top) Photographer Nick Moir, SMH | (Bottom) No photographer listed, Daily Telegraph.

Story of the Fires in 2013 in the SMH  |   Story with the photos of snow Daily Telegraph

Doreatha Mackellar 1908

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

We hope everyone is safe.

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Australia becomes a climate pariah and yet tourists flock to visit the Axis of Carbon!

According to the Guardian, Australia is almost a Climate Pariah TM, and owes the world an apology for voting to repeal the Carbon Tax.

What chilling effect, I wondered, did being a pariah have on international tourists?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in July 2014 as the Carbon Tax was finally removed, tourists voted with their feet … and flocked to come. A record 573,100 visitors arrived in Australia from all over the world. Year on year tourism from May 2013 – May 2014 grew by 8%.

Pariah status it appears, may count for Guardian and NY Times columnists, but not so much for the rest of the world.

Josh Bornstein of The Guardian says Australia is seen as a dirty polluter. The Axis of Carbon!

“This is how the New York Times responded to the scrapping of the carbon price scheme:

Keep reading  →

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West Antarctica: more evidence it was the volcanoes that melted the ice

As I’ve repeatedly posted this year, there is a strange coincidence between geothermal activity and warming in Antarctica. We are still discovering volcanoes underwater, so we can’t pretend we have accurate data on their contribution in joules or the trends in that. On Antarctica almost all the headlines of doom and collapse come from West Antarctic peninsula or the ice sheet nearby which also happen to be over the West Antarctic Rift System. Most other places in and around Antarctica are cooling or staying the same, and sea ice is hitting record levels. “Must be CO2 then.” ; -)

Damiani et al looked at the crustal thickness beneath Thwaites Glacier, and finds it is quite thin, like that beneath the Pine Island Glacier. The researchers conclude that it is likely there is a major volcanic dome in Marie Byrd Land.

Spot any media mention of the possibility that hot lava might be to blame instead of your SUV.  Good little propaganda writers produce plenty of gloom and doom headlines of the imminent collapse of ice-sheets. Where are the journalists? For that matter — which climate scientist tries to make sure journalists present an accurate report?

h/t The HockeySchtick



The two key parts of the abstract:

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Weekend Unthreaded…

More wandering thoughts

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Very small trial appears to reverse Alzheimers symptoms

I like to keep an eye on research on keeping our brains intact (even if it’s not far past the leeches-and-arsenic stage). Here is a tiny trial showing a bit of promise. After years of testing drugs on Alzheimer plaques without much luck, as far as I can tell, this study had the radical idea of doing a bit of everything that had seemed to delay Alzheimers — like exercise, dumping the carbs, mini-fasts, fish oil, meditation and things like that. Unlike the drug trials, this one actually seemed to work and surprisingly for as many as 9 out of 10 patients (there were only ten patients, that’s not a ratio). It’s quite neat that it did work. It has lots of potential (though not much in the way of profits for big-pharma). However it was only six months long. It may not be slowing the plaques, but then if it restores functional memory, that’s  rather the point (though I worry those plaques are coming back later).

Nonetheless, if you like the idea of saving  your brain. Worth reading the list below, just so you know and pass it on to those with an interest. Anything that helps, especially when it’s low risk, has got to be news worth spreading, and if it just helps you get motivated to get moving, that’s not so bad. I suspect the exercise and dietary changes might be the key factors. Exercise seems to turn up in a lot of studies lately on mental performance…

Memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s reversed: Small trial succeeds using systems approach to memory disorders

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Renewable Energy Target costs miners millions, green electricity cost 9 – 15% of bills

Who was it that said that Renewable Energy is making electricity cheap?

The Minerals Council added up the numbers on the RET (the Renewable Energy Target) and checked the invoices. And even though “Renewable Energy” is made from the free* wind and sun, somehow, being forced to use inefficient, diffuse, and unreliable electricity costs coal miners millions.

For some reason foreign competitors didn’t voluntarily offer to match it. Perhaps they like their weather and don’t want to change it?

Cartoon with thanks and permission from Steve Hunter

Steve Hunter’s site is here.

 The Australian

RET costs causing a heavy burden: miners

MINERS have moved to counter arguments from the renewable energy industry that the target scheme is lowering electricity prices, releasing figures showing it is costing millions of dollars and comprising up to 15 per cent of total electricity bills.

A briefing sent to MPs interested in the renewable energy target debate, circulated by the Minerals Council of Australia, shows six coalmines in Queens-land and NSW paid a combined $7.7 million in RET costs last year and $7.3m in 2012.

The proportion that the RET charge made up of the total bill ranged from 9 per cent to 12 per cent last year, and between 12 per cent and 15 per cent in 2012. This is significantly higher than the 4 per cent average cost to house-holds because large users receive a discounted electricity price for buying in bulk.


Cabinet this week gave Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane a negotiating mandate to reach a deal with Labor that is in line with longstanding Coalition policy. This would see aluminium granted a full exemption and likely see the government push for a cut to the RET from 26 per cent of electricity demand in 2020 to about 20 per cent.

*Free, adj: Not imprisoned or enslaved; being at liberty. ;-)   Not to be confused with the Idiom: for free.

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The scientific method in 61 seconds

Thanks to Richard Feynman

h/t to Aussiute

UPDATE – an excellent comment about Feynman on vague unprovable theories

Kevin Marshall (Manicbeancounter)
October 9, 2014 at 3:52 am
In the same lecture, at around 5.10 here Feynman said something more relevent to the whole climate debate.

You cannot prove a vague theory wrong. If the guess that you make is poorly expressed and the method you have for computing the consequences is a little vague then ….. you see that the theory is good as it can’t be proved wrong. If the process of computing the consequences is indefinite, then with a little skill any experimental result can be made to look like an expected consequence.

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Missing heat not in deep oceans but “found” in missing data in upper ocean instead

Two papers on ocean heat released together today. The first says the missing heat is not in the deep ocean abyss below 2000m. The second finds the missing heat in missing data in the Southern Hemisphere instead. Toss out one excuse, move to another.

The first paper by Llovel and Willis et al, looked at the total sea-level rise as measured by adjusted satellites*, then removed the part of that rise due to expanding warming oceans above 2,000 m and the part due to ice melting off glaciers and ice-sheets.** The upshot is that the bottom half of the ocean is apparently not warming — there was nothing much left for the deep oceans to do. This result comes from Argo buoy data which went into full operation in 2005. (Before Argo the uncertainties in ocean temperature measurements massively outweigh the expected temperature changes, so the “data” is pretty useless.)

Figure 2 | Global mean steric sea-level change contributions from different layers of the ocean. 0–2,000m (red), 0–700m (green), 700–2,000m (blue). The dashed black curve shows an estimate for the remainder of the ocean below 2,000m computed by removing the 0–2,000m estimate from the GRACE-corrected observed mean sea-level time series. Seasonal signals have been removed from all curves. Curves are offset for clarity. Shading, where shown, denotes 1-sigma uncertainty of the respective  estimates.

The second paper provides the excuse that the missing heat is really in the top 700m of the Southern Hemisphere instead. The title tells us they are adding up what they don’t know: “Quantifying underestimates of long-term upper-ocean warming”. The data they use comes satellites and “simulations” of the Earth’s climate.

 Using satellite altimetry observations and a large suite of climate models, we conclude that observed estimates of 0–700 dbar global ocean warming since 1970 are likely biased low.

So we all know that this is an excellent estimate of heat accruing on a planet a lot like Earth — except that global warming didn’t pause on that planet, the upper tropospheric humidity is rising instead of falling, the sea-ice is shrinking at the south pole instead of increasing, and so on. Simulated Earth is a different planet. On that planet, the ARGO buoys are “biased low”.

Yet again, the missing heat is found in missing data:

This underestimation is attributed to poor sampling of the Southern Hemisphere, and limitations of the analysis methods that conservatively estimate temperature changes in data-sparse regions.

We only have half-decent data on the ocean starting around 2005. But thousands upon millions of joules are arriving every day, and if some of that energy is being trapped on Earth, it must be somewhere. What incredible bad luck for climate scientists: yet again the observations are biased low, like 28 million weather balloons which underestimate heat and humidity, the 3,000 Argo buoys are underestimating ocean heat too.*** The models could not possibly be wrong …

Another recent paper by Schulz found that the first air-sea flux mooring in the Southern Ocean was recording a heat loss at a rate of -10Wm-2. That would kind of fit with the record increase in sea ice perhaps?

This is the part, below, where Durack concludes the models are probably right, and the observations are probably wrong. The black horizontal lines are the model predictions, and the diamonds in color are the observations. (Notice too that the period is 1970 to 2004, ending just as the ocean temperature starts to get measured properly for the first time.)

Figure 4 | Histogram of the observed and simulated Southern Hemisphere contribution to global OHC trends for 1970–2004. The distribution from 62 independent CMIP5 (historical) and CMIP3 (20c3m) model means (average of single model simulations) is shown in dark grey (21 CMIP3 20c3m simulations; overlaid light grey). Results from additional CMIP experiments are summarized with the MMM and one standard deviation spread indicated by small black diamonds and horizontal black lines respectively. The full ensemble MMM (dark grey) is presented as a vertical white line. Supplementary Fig. 8 shows composite single simulation distributions and Supplementary Fig. 9 shows each CMIP experiment. Models are listed in Supplementary Tables 1 and 2.

In their own words, the observations agree with each other, but not with the models.

“All but one of the four observational OHC trend estimates in Fig. 3b suggest a much smaller SH contribution, with stabilized ratios at timescales of 15 years and longer, well outside the intermodel standard deviation (0.500.63, MMM 0.56 versus 0.330.49 for observations).”

Astute reader Robbo says this is his favorite passage from Durack et al:

“Thus, it seems that our preliminary finding is robust: the SH contribution to the total upper-OHC change found in the five observational data sets is inconsistent with the CMIP model ensembles (Figs 3b and 4). The agreement between the observed and simulated SSH changes, the close correspondence between OHC and SSH (Fig. 2), and the better agreement of observed and simulated OHC for the recent Argo period (with improved SH coverage) suggests systematic model biases are not the dominant factor. We thus conclude, in agreement with previous works, that long-term observational estimates of SH upper-ocean heat content change are biased low.

If models are correct in their hemispheric partitioning of OHC changes, we can use them to guide observational adjustment over the data-sparse SH.

Thus, the data is inconsistent with the models, therefore the data is biased, and we can use models to adjust the data.

Two more Classic Climatology sentences from the Durack paper:

“we adjust the poorly constrained SH estimates (Methods) so that they yield an inter-hemispheric ratio that is consistent with the MMM [multi-model-mean] (Fig. 4). When this adjustment is applied, the various observational estimates of 35-year global upper-OHC change are substantially increased in all cases.” 

“Adjusting the poorly constrained SH OHC change estimates to yield an improved consistency with models.”

Who would have thought… after adjusting to the data to fit the models, they get a better agreement with the models.

I hear the ABC reported it as proof that it’s warming faster than we thought.

For those who want to gawk at the observations of the Southern Hemisphere heat content versus the models. Here is Fig 3 parts b, c, and d. Note how the observation lines almost all run entirely below the models.

Figure 3 | Southern Hemisphere fractional contributions to global upper-OHC or global average SSH anomaly for varying trend lengths (1–35 years). a,b, Results over 1–35-years (1970–2004) for SSH (a) and OHC (b). c,d, Results for a shorter 11-year period (1993–2004) for SSH (c) and OHC (d) duringwhich observed SSH data is available. Observed results extend to 2012 if available. Discontinuous black and grey lines extend 2004 CMIP5 values to 2012. The CMIP5MMMand one standard deviation spread are obtained from CMIP5 historical simulations.

*Satellite altimetry has its own problems. As near as I can tell, these are probably the same satellites that showed virtually no sea-level rise in the 1990s until they were calibrated against one tide gauge in Hong Kong, which is sinking compared to the four gauges around it. Durack says: “From 2005 to 2013, sea level rose at a rate of 2.78 ±0.32mmyr-1 .” Nils Axel-Morner and others like Beenstock have shown that hundreds of tide gauges around the world record an average rate of about 1mm a year or so. 182 gauges are showing a rise of about 1.6mm annually. In one location with long records and a lot of data about crustal movements of the land, Axel Morner estimates the rise is 0.8-0.9mm annually.  Llovel estimates steric sea level rise at 0.9mm.

The globally averaged steric sea level between 66° of latitude and above 2,000m depth (red curve in Fig. 1) rose with a linear trend of 0.9 ±0.15mmyr-1 between 2005 and 2013.

Either way, without adjustments, the sea level rises shown by satellites would find a lot less “heat” content.

Keep reading  →

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Australian summer maximums “warmed” by 200%

Which causes more summer heatwaves: carbon dioxide or Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) adjustments?

Ken Stewart has analyzed the adjustments used to create the all-new ACORN wonder dataset and compared them with another BOM dataset called AWAP, and finds, extraordinarily, that the trend in average summer maximums has been tripled by adjustments that the BOM imply are neutral.

Since summer maxima are the ones used to generate the most headlines in Australia, I ask again if the Bureau of Meteorology is a scientific agency or a PR group?  Increasing the trend in summer maxima would produce more headlines of hottest ever month, season, heatwave, and weekend.

In this graph Stewart splits the data into months, and compares the trends in maxima in the AWAP and ACORN datasets, across the entire nation. We see that most of the adjustments happen to data from the hottest months of the year, October to March. Even though the measured maxima in February and March are possibly cooler now than they were in the early 1900s, they have been adjusted to show warming trends.

When was the last time you heard the BOM tell you that their “hottest ever” February record depended on adjusting down the past hotter records?

Ken Stewart points out that adjustments grossly exaggerate monthly and seasonal warming, and that anyone analyzing national data trends quickly gets into 2 degrees of quicksand. He asks: What was the national summer maximum in 1926?  AWAP says 35.9C.  Acorn says 33.5C.  Which dataset is to be believed?

We might be worried about “two degrees of warming” but people living in 1926 got two degrees of cooling some 88 years after the fact.

Three ways to not graph the adjustments that matter

The BOM created a new “adjustments” page which appeared a few weeks ago, after questions from skeptics Jennifer Marohasy, David Stockwell, Bill Johnston, and Ken Stewart were raised in The Australian newspaper.

The BOM show the next graph to convince us that their adjustments are neutral. But there are several problems. The graph  does not show the effect that adjustments have on seasons, or on maxima and minima. The BOM claim the AWAP data is “unadjusted”, but their CAWCR Technical Report No. 050 calls it “partially homogenized”, which in most scientist’s books is a rather un-raw and adjusted state.

The graph as usual starts in 1910, so ignores the hot historic records from 1880-1900. This older data is more difficult to combine with new data, but some of it was recorded on modern equipment. Yet the BOM shows no curiosity or interest in these historical records, as we’ve seen at Bourke, Rutherglen, Hay, Omeo, Bendigo, Alice Springs, Melbourne, Carnarvon and NewcastleBOM adjustments change cooling trends to warming trends because stations “might” have moved!

How honest are the BOM being about the impact of their adjustments with a graph like this?

The BOM use “mean temperatures” from two different adjusted data sets to claim that their adjustments don’t matter.

BOM ACORN Adjustments

Comparison between adjusted and unadjusted temperatures

Both adjusted and unadjusted temperatures show that Australia’s climate has warmed since 1910. Since 1955 adjusted and unadjusted data are virtually identical. It is also during this time that most of the warming has occurred in Australia.

The graph below shows temperature trends since 1910 from the unadjusted temperatures from more than 700 locations (AWAP), together with those that have been carefully curated, quality controlled and corrected for artificially induced biases at 112 locations (ACORN-SAT).

Note that “mean” temperatures lose a lot of the data that matters about our climate. The maxima and minima can both be more extreme, yet the mean can remain the same. What matters to the man in the street are the daily maxes and min’s — not the “average” which is a mere half way point between the peaks of the day. It doesn’t represent the true average temperature of the day because it doesn’t take into account the hours of hot or cold temperatures under the daily curve. “Mean trends” however could be useful if you’ve made adjustments to the maxes and mins, but want to make it look as though they don’t matter. Just sayin’…

Table of percentage changes to Trends in AWAP versus ACORN

(Click to expand)


On Stewart’s site there is discussion about the value of quadratic trends versus linear trends, but the main point is that the BOM use quadratic trends, so Stewart copied their approach. As far as I’m concerned, all trends from either AWAP or ACORN are hopelessly compromised. Both are area-weighted, gridded data, neither are “unadjusted”, and there are far too many anomalies, and adjustments that can’t be justified with documentation. These are statistical creations.

If we want to reduce temperatures across Australia in the next 100 years, the cheapest and most effective way to do it is with adjustments not windmills. Solving our temperature problems might be a simple as setting up a new BOM.

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Imaginary hottest “fingerprints” found in extreme weather by failed models

Finally, for only the 87th time, climate modellers have uncovered the definitive proof they’ve been finding in different forms every year since 1988.

ARC extreme unscience – corrected at no cost to the Australian taxpayer. Click for a big printable copy.

They seek, and find, the most excellent propaganda they can pretend is science. Look, this is the specific handprint of non-specific climate-change! Everything bar climate-sameness is proof the climate changes. How inane? The unscientific vagueness gives this poster away as being more about propaganda than about communication of science.

… in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, examining extreme events around the world during 2013, a series of papers home in on the Australian heat waves, and identify a human influence.

Using short, noisy records, with flawed and adjusted data, it is possible to run broken climate models and show “definitively” that current heat-waves and hottest years are due to man-made emissions. And if you believe that, you could be gullible enough to be a Guardian journalist.

That is, climate models that do not include solar factors like magnetic fields, solar winds, cosmic rays, solar spectral changes, or lunar effects are able to rule out all these natural forces, and the others we don’t know about yet. This is the magic of one-sided modeling which  didn’t predict the pause, and was wrong about humidity, rainfall, drought, and clouds too.  They don’t work on regional, local, or continental scales. They didn’t predict polar conditions, and they failed on upper tropospheric patterns (see Storch et al, 2013; Paltridge et al, 2009;  Anagnostopoulos et al, 2010;  Sheffield et al, 2012; Miller et al, 2012;  Koutsoyiannis et al, 2008; Previdi and Polvani, 2014; Christy et al, 2010;  and Fu et al, 2011).

My favorite witchdoctor quote comes from David Karoly, who tosses all pretense of scientific demeanor to the wind:

“We often talk about the fingerprint of human-caused climate change when we look at extreme weather patterns,” said David Karoly, professor of meteorology at the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences. “This research across four different papers goes well beyond that.

“If we were climate detectives, then Australia’s hottest year on records in 2013 wasn’t just a smudged fingerprint at the scene of the crime, it was a clear and unequivocal handprint showing the impact of human-caused global warming.”

It’s unequivocal! Praise the Lord!

Sorry, wait, … are we talking about man-made emissions of CO2, or “global warming”? Are we being accidentally vague Tim Radford?

… they did find that global warming doubled the chance of severe heat waves in Australia—making extreme summer temperatures five times more likely, increasing the chance of drought conditions sevenfold, and making hot temperatures in spring 30 times more probable.

And they reckoned that the record hot year of 2013 would have been virtually impossible without global warming. At a conservative calculation, the science showed that the heat of 2013 was made 2,000 times more likely by global warming.

Thus does gibberish flow. If global warming was due to natural causes, would it increase heatwaves? Could be…

Since the models are proven failures, when they can’t find extreme weather “without the influence of CO2″ the only conclusion we can draw is that taxpayers are wasting money on poseurs who pretend to be scientists and climate models that omit the real causes. We know it’s not CO2 and we know it’s not the minor changes in solar radiation, so…it’s something else.

This is argument from ignorance (“we don’t understand the climate, but we can’t think of anything else it could be and we don’t want to”):

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Weekend Unthreaded

… look out for a request from TonyfromOz and entertainment from Appattullo

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Overflow thread

For comments that don’t belong.

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Kill the Climate Deniers — taxes fund new “living satire” where writer plays paranoid believer admiring terrorists

I’ve come back from a few days R&R at a marvellous farm, to hear that the ACT government is tossing $19,000 to an Aspen Island Theatre Company to  do the “creative development” of a fun play called Kill The Deniers.

David Finnigan

Don Aitkin wonders if it is a comedy, so I went with an open mind to investigate. After reading his other works, I conclude the writer, David Finnigan, seems to be doing a brave new kind of living satire -- one where he lives the genre full time as he prepares, never breaking out of character in tweets, blogs, or plays. Sheer brilliance! He is self-satirizing the paranoid useful idiot who swallows improbable scientific visions about controlling the weather, and uses hyperbolic crass motherf…… language in a form of scientific self-mockery. Taking things to absurd extremes, he calls himself peaceful while he admires terrorists, invents conspiracy theories, and dreams of bloody revolution.

Truly, this could be a remarkable production that we will laugh at for years to come. In a stroke of innovation, the production is not the play that is in draft — instead it’s the media, the blogs, and his own parody responses. The show is on!

See how this is unfolding. The grant itself is stimulating political discussion:

The ACT Opposition and right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt lined up to condemn the grant, part of the latest round of ArtsACT funding, calling it an “outrage” and demanding the government reconsider its funding. -- Canberra Times

Talking about killing people is OK, says the company with a straight face, because, they say, they don’t mean it in a violent way:

But ArtsACT director David Whitney said the authors had explicitly stated in their application they did not advocate or believe in violence of any kind, including for political reasons.

This is how they describe their peaceful play– so inane, it has to be satire of  the Original Totalitarian Wet Dream — which has naked political aims, and mocks the idea of persuading people in a democracy with good communication skills:

According to the description on the play’s website, it is about a group of heavily armed eco-activists who break into a major Australian institution and hold the occupants hostage.

It says in the play their demands are an immediate cessation of all carbon emissions and the immediate transformation of the Australian economy away from any reliance on fossil fuels.

Aspen Island has responded to the critics, saying this is satire (well, of course, I mean, who could take this for real?):

An idea, or scenario, can be treated in many ways. It is premature to judge the way our production – which we hope to follow our creative development – will do this. Our application for funding describes that we will explore the idea through a satirical exploration of the tropes of the hostage-crisis action film genre.

Good-o, says Jo, who is a big fan of satire. The play might be a good way to expose the power hungry bullies and namecalling thugs to the mockery they deserve for pretending to be scientific, and their fake concern for the environment and the poor. Now normally a satirist would use irony to espouse one view in their writing, while they state the opposite in their personal views. But David Finnigan writer, theatre-maker and arts producer, must be permanently on the job. I can find no chink in his writing. Even the straight faced, seemingly non-satirical work is “in character” as the gullible believer, e.g. Finningan “… humankind has become one of the most significant drivers of the planetary systems. “

Good satirists understand their targets. Here is Finnigan-the-writer, pretending to be an artist but secretly playing the role of a paranoid fearmonger, thinking skeptics may be trying to kill him.

We are not advocating for the murder of carbon lobbyists! Frankly at this late stage in the game it looks like you guys are trying to kill us, where us = anyone not wealthy enough to survive in a world of 9+ billion where the capacity of the planet to support the human population has been devastated by anthropogenic climate change and efforts to adapt to face the challenge have been hamstrung by well-heeled political lobbyists. But we’re not suggesting you guys should be killed, not even a little bit, not even at all. Bless!  — KillClimateDeniers – Tmblr

It gets better. This below is from Finnigan’s About page, where the man of peace openly admires people who fight to the death for abstract concepts:

“It’s going to be a rough century. How are we going to get through it? We’re going to need a couple of things:

1. Love. Passion. Seriously, lots and lots of love and passion.

2. Guts. The guts to fight and die for a thing that seems far off and away.”

It’s a clever way to mock the so called “climate science” fans who pretend to care about calculations of climate sensitivity, but are running on hot passion rather than numbers. Bravo David F.!

Naturally, being a satirist, he exposes the fakery of his claims of peace, again, right out there on his own “About” page:

“In short, what would it take to actually stop climate change, dead in its tracks?

The answer is: guns. And lots of them.

Armed insurrection. Revolution. Or at the very least, a massive hostage scenario.”

Presumably David-Finnigan-the-self-satirist will toy with Fairfax journalists and green politicians soon and say he was only talking of water-pistols, or metaphors of cleansing, I mean cleaning. Then we can all laugh at them. Of course, he doesn’t mean real hostages either. Which he explains by admiring other satirical actors called “Chechens” who did this amazing play in a theater in Russia:

In 2002, about 50 armed Chechens broke into the Dubrovka Theatre in Russia and took the 850 occupants hostage, demanding an end to the Russian occupation of Chechnya. Their efforts were unsuccessful, ending when the Russian government gassed the building with a toxic substance, killing 200 of their own citizens as well as the terrorists. Nevertheless, their attempt provides a model for what a real challenge to the status quo might look like. They went in with no expectation that they themselves would survive, but they put their own lives (and the lives of nearly a thousand innocent bystanders) on the line to try and put a stop to a war that has been raging for decades.

His use of satire within satire is gifted. Finnigan is really mocking the entire arts world, and government grants system. His self-portrayal of a blind crass activist, talking “science” while living in the delusion of being a sophisticated intelligent player is fooling politician and journalist alike. And he got $19,000 out of them! Way to go David F. He’s been in character for years already; past works include “Oceans boiled into sky.

His sophisticated “artiste” pronouncements include these words in Top 200 polluters:

“… BHP is the 9th largest company in the world by some reckoning and it’s lobbying the Australian right-wing govt to cancel the carbon tax, fuck those guys”

How could anyone mistake Finnigan for a serious writer making serious plays?

Finnigan’s twitter feed.

Via Warwick Hughes, and Don Aitkin


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The Rutherglen Stoush on homogenisation — Bill Johnston bravely ventured onto “the Conversation”

Rutherglen is one of the seemingly best stations in Australia, apart from a break from 1955-1965. Bill Johnston looks closely at the raw data, finding that there is probably no trend — flat temperatures — rather than either cooling or warming. And that it’s difficult to fill in data from surrounding stations. He speculates that something fishy goes on in 1924. He also finds that rainfall probably drives a fifth of the temperature swings. He discusses his disappointment at the intellectual level of debate on The Conversation.

Because he knows the area, he also talks about the effect of wet years and dry years, and how that affects winter and summer temperatures. He has a dry wit, and lovely casual style.

I think that if we have to rely on statistical analysis to “know” whether data was shifted or moved when there is no documentation suggesting it was, all certainty is shot, and any definitive statement about temperature trends in Australia is a joke.  — Jo


The Rutherglen stoush

Guest post by Bill Johnston

The raw trend is very different from the HQ adjustments which are very different from the ACORN homogenised set.

Main points:

Before the big, fat, green, wrecking-ball totally trashes our economy and reduces our children and us to green-serfs, we need different national conversation.

  • Are we really headed for the cooker; or is it just homogenised data that point that way?
  • Has homogenisation produced a more believable ‘product’ or just a more-marketable brand?
  • Is it really possible that temperature records are broken, seemingly every second day; when daily data have such obvious historical failings; and when modern data are not observed using thermometers and are possibly homogenised on-the-fly?
  • Do we really need to irrigate the Southern Ocean with precious Murray-Darling Basin water; build expensively subsidised windmills and other green-trinkets; and even if you think so, will it really change our climate?

As shown in this essay, the biggest problem of all is that data were first collected in Australia to describe and understand our weather; not track the climate over time. People were no-doubt as vigilant as they could be. However, the odd missing-day was of little concern. Having measured weather for years, not far from Rutherglen, I understand the difficulties and how problems happen.

Observers also did not know that a generation or-so later; bunches of professors would pore over their data trying to polish-out some trend that could mean anything; or, like for these data, nothing at all. A close look at most of our long-term series unearths shiploads of problems. Starting with an arms-length independent audit of the Bureau’s data, let’s strike-up a new national conversation about climate science!

The stoush

After contributing an analysis of Rutherglen Research’s raw annual minimum temperatures commentary erupted at The Conversation. I naïvely thought The Conversation was about having a conversation; in this case about data.

But it wasn’t. It’s more like a $6M opinion-mosh-pit run by universities that we constantly hear are too broke to teach our kids. It involved some who knew nothing about data; some who knew lots and wanted to share; and some defending their positions, come hell or high-water.

Keep reading  →

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Rating: 8.4/10 (90 votes cast)

A nice software surprise (better than SyncToy), and an update from David

How often do you hear a story of an easy software solution to a widespread problem? If you leave your computer running (with sleeps) for days like I do, the back up program might never back up the most important files which are open. A skeptic developed a quick inexpensive answer, and we’re impressed. I hardly ever hear David enthused about software. He said,  “I was building backup software I’d do it like this!” – Jo

Backing up Joanne’s inbox

Guest post by David Evans

Joanne’s old computer developed a very flaky main hard drive (HDD) last year, and died after a few fits and splutters. With donations from this blog (thank you!) she bought a new Windows computer, which works wonderfully, and seems much quicker mainly due to the solid state drive (SSD).

We’d been using Microsoft’s SyncToy to do daily backups, like a lot of technical trendies from around 2007. SyncToy just synchronizes your data with a backup folder, thereby making a backup in the usual file format, without needing a special back up program to recover backed up files. Last year it turned out Joanne’s old HDD was cajoled into running a bit longer so we got everything off it without resorting to backups, but it was good to know the backups were there.

At the time, reader Ashleigh popped up and offered copies of his backup program for Windows, QuickShadow. I was extremely busy at the time (just discovered the notch-delay solar theory, see the update below*), so I made a note of this backup program and promised to have a look when I wasn’t so rushed.

A few days ago I’d finished a paper for submission, and felt it was time (time for a change of topic, anyway). I installed QuickShadow, and had that rare moment of surprise (shock even!) because for once everything went better, and worked better, than I expected, so I thought I’d write this note.

Quickshadow is pretty much the program I’ve thought about building for myself. I develop software, and have been frustrated at backup software that is too complex, has a geeky interface with arcane terms or far too many options, doesn’t schedule backups automatically, doesn’t tell you what it is doing, use some weird file format, or otherwise needlessly sucks your time. So, thank you

The shortcomings with SyncToy

Keep reading  →

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Rating: 8.7/10 (49 votes cast)

Another toothless review of the BOM?

In last week’s news we find — by golly — that the BOM are going to “rush” to set up an oversight panel that they were told to set up back in 2011 or 2012. Hey, it was going to take three years to set up the panel, but now they’re doing it in two! That’s what I call “action”.

So the BOM knows it’s in trouble, and they shift to Stage 2.  They’ve avoided the skeptical questions, the FOIA’s, and the request for explanations for as long as they possibly could. But now the mainstream media is involved, something has to change — because nothing is worse than playing out the questions and answers in an uncontrolled way in public. To pack away those contentious points, what better method than by appointing a committee, review panel, or some kind of “independent” assessment? The right committee can produce toothless recommendations, vague praise, and a weak slap on the wrist and it can take years to do it.

Thus and verily do Ministers sometimes palm off problems, and responsibility. All decision-making power seemingly goes to the “review” (unless it somehow produces an undesirable result). Should the review churn out the conclusion the Minister wanted, he or she can fob off hard questions by dutifully claiming to be “following expert advice”. So public debate stalls superficially at the he-said, they-said stage — unless the media actually asks hard questions.

So whether or not a review is useful depends largely on who runs it, and their motivation for doing it.

Senator Birmingham appointed to oversee BOM review

So how motivated is Birmingham to get a real answer? Allegedly, he was one of the “keenest” for an ETS in 2009. In May 2013 he again made it clear he thinks we need global action for CO2 reduction:

“Senator Milne is right: the challenge of climate change remains one of how you get a global solution; how you get global action; how you get emissions down from those who are far bigger emitters than Australia…. Should we try to reduce carbon emissions? Absolutely. … We should be seeking, of course, to reduce their emissions” — Senator Birmingham

Birmingham may have little incentive to do a real review that shows up his former less-than-skeptical attitude. But if Cory Bernardi or Dennis Jensen were put in charge, no one would be asking whether the review was serious.

I’ve seen an email about this review saying that the BOM will be vetting nominations: (Dated Sept 23rd) Public nominations are not being called for, however any nomination will be passed on the Director of the Bureau of Meteorology for consideration. Nominations must be received within the next fortnight and all nominations must be verified by the person concerned and include academic resume and relevant reviewed scientific publications to ascertain credentials. 

In other words, a whitewash. If the BOM was so sure it was doing world class, impeccable research, it would be demanding independent replication of its work to clear its name and assure Australians of the high standards. All methods fully published, testable, and reproduced. Anything less is not science.

The Australian Sept 16, 2014

Birmingham brings early change to bureau review

THE Bureau of Meteorology has been ordered to bring forward the creation of a panel of external ­experts to oversee the national homogenised temperature record, ACORN-SAT.

Keep reading  →

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Rating: 9.1/10 (73 votes cast)

The mysterious sudden jump in Melbourne temperatures in 1996 with an instrument change

Here’s a strange change. After 160 years of fairly constant maximum temperatures, the raw Melbourne records take a sudden step up by 0.7 0C in 1996. Coincidentally (or not) that is the same year that the automatic gauge was installed. The new electronic equipment is much more responsive to short peaks and dips compared to thermometers. Could the step up be due to the better resolution? It’s by no means definitive — these are yearly averages, not monthly, and it may be a real climate shift and not due to the equipment. The obvious question is whether this sort of jump occurs in other stations where AWS (automatic weather stations) were installed. That would have profound implications if it did, but surely it would have been noticed already? Melbourne is known for having “four seasons in one day”, so perhaps there is a small effect in most places, but the switchable peaks of of Melbourne summers make a larger difference. In any case, thanks to Tom Quirk (and Bill Johnston)  we have another puzzle in need of an answer. These AWS’s were installed all over Australia in the late nineties. If there was some effect, then there would be a lot of artificial small step ups as better equipment started to detect faster, shorter peaks. The ACORN adjustments make no corrections to the max record in 1996 but there is an adjustment made to the minima then. Hmm. – Jo

Twenty-first century Melbourne temperatures

Guest Post by Tom Quirk

During the 1990s the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) started to install automatic weather stations. The minimum and maximum temperatures along with temperature readings every 30 minutes were recorded electronically. The weather stations used thermistors rather than mercury or alcohol thermometers for temperature measurements. Thermistors are electrical resistors that are very sensitive to temperature changes.

The Melbourne annual maximum temperature readings are shown in Figure 1. There is an unusual feature in the record as shown occurring in 1996. It is a break with a difference of 0.7 0C. The two straight lines are a best fit to the measurements and the difference is calculated from the lines at 1996.

Figure 1: Annual average raw maximum temperatures for the Melbourne Regional Office. The straight lines represent the best fit for two lines.

The ACORN-SAT adjustment record (Figure 2) shows only an increase of 0.41 0C to the maximum temperature record starting at 1 Jan 1990. This adjustment is explained as “statistical”. Interestingly the adjustment record shows a break in 1996 for the minimum temperature record.

Keep reading  →

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Rating: 9.1/10 (58 votes cast)

Monckton in Australia (Brisbane on Tuesday)

Christopher Monckton

The wonderful Christopher Monckton is quietly venturing around Australia once again, this time at a more relaxed pace.

Hear Alan Jones interview Lord Monckton recently on 2GB.

As Alan Jones points out, Monckton has been thoroughly demonized, but as the evidence accrues, it’s clear he’s been on the right side the whole time.

Keep track of the Monckton Foundation page for other up and coming events that may occur.

For South East Queenslanders:–
Christopher will be in the IRISH CLUB, Brisbane (again) next Tuesday 30th September.
Details from Michael Darby; the Event Organiser:–

Keep reading  →

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