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

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper




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

Study namecalling at Queensland University

Would you too like to learn how to misinform people, mangle English, and toss cherry-picked factoids that avoid the real point? How about studying to be an apologist for scientists who take your taxes, but hide their data? Or perhaps you’ve always dreamed of being an obedient useful fool for the State, to help promote propaganda that governments can change the weather if the people just pay enough money?

Are you looking for a cause to pick up that you can brag about at parties to prove your social superiority, impress teenage girls, or hide your low self-esteem? Do you crave an outlet where you get the thrill of being a namecalling bully, but with the excuse that you are “saving the planet” and “being scientific”?

Good news, Queensland University is dumping any pretense that its science faculty uses logic or reason or has an interest in observable evidence. The university is advertising that abusing English definitions and words meets its standards of higher education. After all, no one denies we have climate, and “climate deniers” don’t exist, but it’s a useful propaganda term to fog, veil and clog up the public debate about climate science. John Cook who runs the course even admits that it’s an inaccurate term, but he won’t stop namecalling. The last thing we want of course, is a polite discussion of a complex topic. If fans of the man-made climate crisis have to provide evidence, or answer questions, the facade would crumble.

The best defense is offense, and the best offense is to be really offensive. Bring on the namecalling, derision, and character assassination. Skeptics are scum like holocaust deniers, and have a brain like a lizard. Don’t listen to them whatever you do!

Come learn these stone-age techniques: serve the names up with half-truths, lies by omission, and be a better useful idiot. Big bankers, parasitic industries, and self-serving politicians need you!

Calling all bullies, sign up now for Making Sense of Climate Science Denial at UQ.

Tony Thomas can’t wait: “I’ve only about 120 sleeps to the start of my Denial 101X course. I hope to be a  John Cook Laureate.” Reader, Pat has signed up too.

Denial101X is a MOOC – massive online open course. It’s free for you, but sucks money from workers around Australia.

About this Course

In public discussions, climate change is a highly controversial topic. However, in the scientific community, there is little controversy with 97% of climate scientists concluding humans are causing global warming.

In the climate science community there is little controversy, because most people who question the hypothesis have been sacked, attacked, find it hard to publish papers and are subject to name-calling, exile, intimidation, and “climate apostasy“. There are no grants for skeptics, and monopolistic funding has purchased a “consensus”.

John Cook’s unscientific 97% study started as a logical fallacy, and ended by using irrelevant and mis-assigned papers to claim that a 0.3% consensus by their own definition was actually a 97% consensus (by quietly using a different definition). Nonetheless it is a quasi proxy for funding ratios in climate science, though it overestimates skeptical funding because many skeptical papers are written by volunteers. The real funding ratio is not 97 to 3 but more like 3500 to 1.

  1. The study can’t be replicated. (Legates et al)
  2. The data is hidden. Either Cook et al didn’t keep it (and are incompetent) or they did but it does not reflect well on them and they won’t release it (they are incompetent and deceptive too?).
  3. The definitions changed between the claims in the abstract and those in the paper. (Legates et a;)
  4. The raters were not independent. 7% of the ratings were wrong, and biased.
  5. The ratings data shows inexplicable patterns.
  6. Cook et al fail to report that their data fail their own validation test. 
  7. Most of the papers were irrelevant. Those authors were writing about “impacts” or “mitigation” of climate change and not about the cause of climate change. Obviously skeptical scientists will not write about “mitigation” or “impacts” of climate change, so including these papers (and there are thousands) served the purpose of increasing the total number of papers claimed to be surveyed and also increases the percentage of “consensus”. That is an utterly predictable outcome. Good PR, lousy design.
  8. It’s not a representative sample, and Cook did not test to see if it was.
  9. The paper is used to make profoundly unscientific statements in the media. Cook et al endorse the fallacies.

In the wider scientific community there is so much controversy that skeptics outnumber believers, scientific associations have had revolts about climate change, scientists have quit their failing institutions, protested by hundreds on blogs.

I’ll help John with his course:

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (104 votes cast)

Germany gives up on emissions target. Japan emits more CO2 than ever

So much for momentum on climate change. Reality bites. Without nuclear power, Japans emissions have hit a new record high. At the same time, even with 17% of its energy from Nuclear power, and with 23,000 wind turbines, Germany stands no chance of reaching its emissions targets. The rich, technologically advanced nation that has spent more than any other on green energy admits they’ve failed.

Those who want to stop producing CO2 have billions of dollars to spend on advertising and pointless windmills, but in the end, chemistry and physics can’t be bought. If renewables could provide cheap reliable power, they wouldn’t need subsidies. Everyone would buy them.

Germany to Abandon “Strict” 2020 Target – 40% cut not possible

Breitbart London

Germany’s Vice Chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has indicated that the country will abandon its commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020, from a 1990 base level. In doing so he has won the ongoing clash with his own environmental minister Barbara Hendricks over energy policy, telling her that he will tolerate no further resistance to the change of direction, according to Der Speigel.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.8/10 (62 votes cast)

Gullible leaders, journalists, swallow advertising and cheer it on?

Let’s all jump on the ghost of a bandwagon!

The front page of The West Australian declared  “Barnett backs Obama’s climate plans”

The dead-horse is getting flayed a bit longer and the spectators are cheering louder than when it had legs. A foreign, lame duck President, who just suffered a major defeat in the midterm elections has managed the “feat” of getting the Chinese to shake his hand and solemnly promise to keep doing what they are doing for another 16 years. (After that, they agree to change what was probably changing anyway.) Those who spent millions on climate-scare in the US election are licking their wounds. Gallup polls show the public just don’t care — ranking it 13th out of 13.

Despite those hard numbers, those who forecast the horoscopes on herd movements are getting very excited. Andrew Probyn, political editor of The West, exclaimed “The politics of climate change are again in the ascendancy”. It’s political astrology.

As I keep saying, the media IS the problem. With journalists like that, we get politicians like this.

Colin Barnett, conservative leader of my home state, is mimicking the David-Cameron style unconservative, big spending, non-leader and dutifully joining the chorus. In 2100, how historians will mock the song and marvel that state leaders seriously fell for the idea that wind-mills would turn back the tide, and solar panels could stop the floods. Look out. Global warming causes global cooling, and a tax can change the weather! Hey but it’s just as likely as the Chinese volunteering to curb their economy because we asked them nicely.

Colin Barnett has “embraced Obama’s demand for stronger climate change action, saying Australia needs to be bolder in its emission reduction targets”. He thinks we should phase out of coal and into gas. Mr Barnett runs a state with lots of gas and not much coal. Did anyone notice? Not so much. Political editors saw the “momentum” they were hoping to see, aligned the planets, and proclaimed the mood is shifting. Any excuse will do in the rush to follow the herd.

My letter to The West Australian today:

To the Editor

Let’s get serious about the climate and start talking numbers. How much does that insurance cost, and how many degrees, exactly, will it cool the planet? The cost is measured in trillions, and the degrees are measured in one hundredths.  If Colin Barnett is serious about the climate he needs to be serious about the decimal places. If it doesn’t have the numbers that matter, it isn’t science.

Buying insurance for insurance sake is something a salesman would push. Has Barnett been fooled by the advertising? There’s a word for people who are not sceptical — and it’s “gullible”.

Global Carbon markets were worth $176 billion a year at their peak and almost a billion dollars a day, globally, was invested in renewables. There are billions of reasons to try to control the weather, but they are all dollars, not satellite measurements, ice core results, or data from weather balloons.

And since we are doing the maths, lets talk about the numbers Obama has in the US Congress. This is a lame duck President freely offering other people’s money to stop storms and hold back the tide. How about some healthy scepticism?

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.4/10 (127 votes cast)

North Korea — the ultimate low-carbon ideal

No nation has been more successful at reducing their carbon emissions than North Korea. Over the space of a few years, the carbon footprint of the entire nation was reduced by a massive two-thirds, thanks mostly to centralized planning with some help from famine, disease and the odd gulag. Anyone for Pine-bark cake? — Jo

Decarbonizing an economy – North Korea

Guest Post by Tom Quirk

The North Korean famine and general economic crisis from 1994 to 1998 is an extraordinary example of the failure of central planning and management. The results of what is called the Arduous March[1] are best illustrated by this image the Korean peninsula at night taken in 2014 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Night image of the Korean Peninsula in 2014 shows that North Korea is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea and China (source NASA).

The North Korean disaster led to the estimated death of between 220,000 and 2,000,000 people, 1% to 10% of the population. The famine, which continues to this day, has led to food rationing, black markets and a government keen to get foreign currency by any means — including drug smuggling and nuclear technology sales. The disaster has led to a decarbonizing of the economy, which can be seen from the estimates of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels shown in Figure 2.

figure 2: Estimated fossil fuel emissions of CO2 for North and South Korea, per capita (left) and total  (right)  (source CDIAC).

North Korean per capita CO2 emissions fell by more than two thirds from 1990 to 2000.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.8/10 (87 votes cast)

weekend unthreaded

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.7/10 (22 votes cast)

Warships for “climate research”. Russia is laughing at the west…

Showing off by sending warships near the G20? Not at all, Vladimir Putin cares about the climate, don’tcha know?

He is having fun, pushing politically correct buttons; teasing the West for its infatuation with climate-goblins.

Climate Research anyone?

What kind of climate research will a Guided Missile Cruiser do?

The Australian

RUSSIA has for the first time explained the presence of a fleet of warships off north-eastern Australia, saying that the ships are testing their range capability, in case they have to do climate change research in the Antarctic.

The Russian embassy also said the fleet could, if necessary, provide security for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arrives in Brisbane for the G20 tonight.

The four Russian warships are conducting exercises in international waters around the Coral Sea in a move that has been interpreted as a show of force by Mr Putin.

Russia finally explains why it has dispatched four warships to Australia:

Daily Mail: Most leaders bring gifts for their hosts. Mr Putin brings a guided missile cruiser and three attendant ships. That show of unnecessary naval presence is what might be called an intended power display of swinging decks.

What a circus: three Australian ships deployed to watch, plus some planes, HMAS Sydney on backup, and Americans are following the Russians too. Fleets of warships on the rove, and Putin pretends it’s about “the climate”. It’s not even climate research, it’s research to see if they could do climate research. Can their boats go that far? Golly. Maybe they could test that Antarctic sea ice like one Russian charter boat did last year? They could make a few polynyas in the ice, the ballistic way.  (And then count the dead whales…)

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.9/10 (81 votes cast)

Why did China pick 2030? Oh look…

After nine months of secret negotiations President Obama managed to get the Chinese to agree to stop their emissions rising after 2030. But look what else is peaking in 2030.


China: Projections of population growth

Did Obama do his homework? Seems President Xi did.

h/t to Andrew V

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (95 votes cast)

Farmers and Ag advisors not convinced by climatologists

Just another survey that takes useful results, interprets with false assumptions, and produces mostly meaningless conclusions. Vale academia.

Farmers are a skeptical bunch, who watch the weather very closely– only 8% buy the whole article-of-faith that man-made climate is the dominant factor, compared to 50 – 66% of climate scientists.

Prokopy et al start from the unspoken assumption that climate scientists know what they are talking about (even though their models are abjectly failing) and try to figure out why farmers aren’t worried about climate change. At no point do they question that inbuilt paradigm and ask the opposite question — are climate scientists failing to convince farmers because the climate scientists are doing bad work? So they miss the obvious recommendation that climate scientists need to figure out the climate before they start the communications cycle. It’s a lesson in how important it is for all scientists to define their terms and state all their assumptions.

When Prokopyu et al manage to come up with a useful suggestion it’s largely by accident. They recommend two-way dialogues between stakeholders and climate scientists (what a wild idea). Can I suggest that climate scientists start by using English, instead of namecalling —   “climate deniers”.

Their assumption is that the climate experts need to send their wisdom across the table from left to right (from computer modelers to farmers). My hypothesis is that the closer people are to reality and the further they are from government monopolistic funding, the better their scientific judgement is. The wisdom needs to flow from the right hand side of this table.

Instead of worrying about threatening the “world view” of farmers, Prokopyu could notice how threatening skepticism is to the “world view” of climate believers.

Survey Question: There is increasing discussion about climate change and its potential impacts. Please select the statement that best reflects your beliefs about climate change. CSCAP 2011 team survey (n=121) 86% response rate 2012 U2U team survey (n=33) 56% response rate Climatologist survey (n=19) 2012 100% response rate 2012 U2U Extension educators survey across 12 Corn Belt States (n=239) 35% response rate 2012 U2U Ag advisors Survey (n=1605) 26% overall response rate Farmer survey m(n=4778) 2012 26% response rate
Climate change is occurring, and it is caused mostly by human activities 50.40% 66.70% 53% 19.20% 12.30% 8%
Climate change is occurring, and it is caused more or less equally by natural changes in the environment and human activities 30.60% 30.30% 37% 31.40% 37.80% 33%
Climate change is occurring, and it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment 10.70% 3% 5% 23.40% 24.90% 25%
There is not sufficient evidence to know with certainty whether climate change is occurring or not 8.30% 0% 5% 24.70% 22.40% 31%
Climate change is not occurring 0% 0% 0% 1.30% 2.60% 3.50%

There is no discussion in the paper of the qualifications of agricultural advisors or of farmers. In the UK, to be an agricultural advisor requires a degree in horticulture or soils or biology. In the US about 30% of farmers have attended college. In Australia more than 30% of farmers have a diploma or bachelors degree. So this survey probably just reflects the big divide between the tiny club of certified climate scientists and the rest of the scientific profession. Which scientist would have more influence on a farmer — a city-based climate scientist who produces bad forecasts, or a farm-based science trained colleague who produces real food?

(See also the Big Myth About The Worlds Scientists — which explains why more scientists are probably skeptics, though no one has surveyed them en masse. The media misreports a consensus among a few climate specialists as if it was a “scientific consensus” when climate scientists are failing to convince other professional scientists because they don’t have the evidence).

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (55 votes cast)

Election over, so US, China agree to make unenforceable long term commitment with no consequences

Now that the mid-term elections are over in the US,  Obama is free to announce the climate commitments that voters didn’t need to hear. (I did say this would happen.) It’s a “landmark” agreement and a “gamechanger”, but no one can point out what  happens if either country doesn’t stick to its agreement.

The end-point of this grand theater of intent and glorious promises is Paris 2015.

What matters is the appearance of “momentum” — and this show ticks all the boxes. The two global superpowers make a sudden, unexpected agreement to reduce emissions and the press can call it “remarkable”, as if it has substance.  Obama –  the President without a majority in either house of Congress –  has announced a big new target of 26% reduction by 2025.  What can a lame-duck President achieve? Fluff and PR. As it happens, US emissions have been falling for years because of the miracle of shale gas and oil. This announcement supposedly doubles the pace of that reduction which was occurring anyhow, and which had nothing to do with any green policies aimed at reducing emissions. Furthermore, Obama, magically, will do it without  imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles. What’s not to like?

The Chinese, meanwhile, were projected to hit their peak emissions in 2030 anyhow. So their big commitment is to keep doing what they were going to do anyway mostly. Let’s have a press conference. Everybody cheer. It’s historic baby.

All the important questions go unasked and unanswered

What’s the punishment, the 10,000 line legal agreement? What exactly will happen if neither country meets these “intentions” and “targets”? Is that a big slap on the wrist coming, or will someone have to pay real money — and is the fine in dollars or renminbi?

How many degrees will this agreement cool the world? Is that zero degrees to one decimal place or is that zero to two?

No one needs to mention these minor details. That’s not what matters. It’s not about the climate but about the appearance of doing something, in order to sweep the rest of the world into action:

These actions will also inject momentum into the global climate negotiations on the road to reaching a successful new climate agreement next year in Paris.

 Nobody is hiding that this is about PR and not really about pollution. The first paragraph of the New York Times lays it right out:

BEIJING — China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.

What exactly did China commit too?

…a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030.

Sixteen years from now China may be producing a lot more CO2 each year but they promise to keep their ultra high level at the same ultra high level year after year from then on. They are promising to stick to “extreme”, but not rise to “obscene”.

You can see how strong the  leader’s commitment is. Obama even wrote a letter:

Administration officials said the agreement, which was worked out quietly between the United States and China over nine months and included a letter from Mr. Obama to Mr. Xi proposing a joint approach, could galvanize efforts to negotiate a new global climate agreement by 2015.

But they did meet for two whole days with only a few distractions about military and trade stuff:

It was the signature achievement of an unexpectedly productive two days of meetings between the leaders. Mr. Obama and Mr. Xi also agreed to a military accord designed to avert clashes between Chinese and American planes and warships in the tense waters off the Chinese coast, as well as an understanding to cut tariffs for technology products. - NY Times

It doesn’t take long to change the energy infrastructure of a nation, just a couple of busy days of talking and a letter. Where is the fine print?

Al Gore came to Australia in June to get Clive Palmer to pressure Abbott to commit to doing something “if the rest of the world did”. Thank goodness he did not. How many political leaders will be fooled by a smoke and mirrors agreement like this into thinking it means something?

Bill Shorten was:

Mr Shorten said on Wednesday the “historic and ambitious” agreement showed global leadership from the US and China.

“At the G20 this week, Australia will hold the embarrassing title of being the only nation going backwards on climate change. With China and the United States representing around one-third of the global economy and over 40 per cent of global emissions, there will be significant momentum to deal with climate change in Brisbane,” he said.

Yes, let’s manage the national economy according to the “Embarrassment Index” — forget productivity, health, wealth, and happiness. It’s right up there next to the GCMF: the Global Climate Momentum Factor.

h/t to a friend in Switzerland, Janama

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.4/10 (115 votes cast)

Slow server trouble: if you can’t see this, email me ;-)

The site has been struggling with very slow access for the last few days and its getting worse. We’ve made a change behind the scenes just now that might improve things (or it might make it worse for a select few). What can I say — thanks for the emails. The feedback is appreciated. — Jo

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (26 votes cast)