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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Peak China

Australia might be the largest coal exporter in the world, but only because all the larger producers of coal keep their own and use it themselves. China is the silent giant coal monster — in 2009 Australia exported 260Mt of coal (our largest export industry). That same year China produced (and used) 3 billion tons. In this era, to predict anything globally, we need to understand China. David Archibald is author of the  Twilight of Abundance: Why Life in the 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish, and Short. He slices the energy data. (Energy, of course, drives everything). China is eating through its coal — it may be able to sustain this peak rate for a decade or so. Chinese oil appears close to reaching its peak. Growth in Chinese steel production has been slowing since 2006. The implications are provocative. — Jo

Guest Post by David Archibald

China has become wealthier in the last couple of decades but unfortunately is using some of that new wealth for military adventures against its neighbours.  The neighbours aren’t happy.  Over 60 percent of the people in countries bordering the South China Sea fear Chinese aggression and expect imminent war.  If China keeps growing their economy that will only make them more capable militarily and more aggressive.   Increases in Chinese debt have been fuelling growth in GDP but as that debt balloons out further growth becomes unsustainable.  But beyond economic considerations are there any physical limits to how big the Chinese economy might get?

It has been suggested that water availability is China’s hard limit.  But if the Israelis can grow crops commercially using desalinated seawater, then water may not be a problem if the solution is simply to build desalination plants.  All economic activity derives from energy sources so let’s start with them.  This is a graph of China’s coal production from 1981 with a projection to 2050.

China’s coal production compared to the rest of the world from 1981 with a projection to 2050.

China is the big orange blob in the middle.  If this graph is anywhere near correct, China is building coal-consuming steelworks and power stations that are going to run out of coal to burn before the plants themselves wear out.  China started out with coal reserves very similar to the US at 220 billion tonnes.  Of that endowment, 60 billion tonnes have been dug up and burnt so far.  The Chinese coal reserves are counted as those seams down to 1,000 metres.  Beyond that depth mining is much more difficult due to rock stresses, gas outbursts and temperature.  In the north of China where their coal is, the mines in the eastern provinces now have an average depth of 600 metres and the average depth in the main coal-producing province, Shanxi, is near to 500 metres.  At the current production rate of four billion tonnes per annum with 90% of that from underground mines, China’s coal mines are getting deeper by 16 metres every year.  In another ten years China will have burnt through half of its coal reserves with costs rising and production falling after that.  So from about the middle of next decade China will start losing its energy cost advantage.

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Lewandowsky — Do we hate our participants?

José Duarte is a psychology PhD candidate. He is able to make sense of  issues in the “Moon Landing Paper” by Stephan Lewandowsky, with some new angles in a way I haven’t seen before. He makes a convincing case for the paper to be retracted, about six times over. My initial analysis of this paper still stands: This could be the worst paper  I have seen — an ad hom argument taken to its absurd extreme, rebadged as “science”.

I recommend Duarte’s whole long analysis, though there is language there that for legal reasons I won’t repeat or endorse. What we see is sloppy science and grand “incompetence“.

Duarte focuses on the deception of a title based on only 10 responses, some of which were fakes, none of which was disclosed to the reader:

Lewandowsky, Oberauer, Gignac titled their paper “NASA faked the moon landing—therefore, (climate) science is a hoax: an anatomy of the motivated rejection of science.”

Why is their title based on the variable for which they have the least data, essentially no data?

Why in the abstract are they linking free market views to incredibly damaging positions that again, they have no data for?

Could this be an error? That seems very unlikely. The researchers have had two years to come clean, to admit that there was no significant data regarding belief in the moon hoax or rejection of the HIV-AIDS or smoking-lung cancer links. They’ve had two years to remove the very-likely-to-be-scam participants identitifed by people who have looked at the data, which will further reduce those trivial numbers at the bottom, and they’ve not done so. I’m not sure they even talk about it. Lewandowsky still won’t tell the public that fewer than 10 participants rejected the moon hoax or HIV and smoking claims – after all this time Lewandowsky is still evading those basic facts and distracting his readers with nonsense statistics. Pearson correlations on essentially dichotomous data skewed 1135 to 10? The paper should have been retracted by the authors long ago.

Duarte reminds us that the title contains a form of reasoning, a causal directional claim for which there is no data. As if readers start from deciding the Moon landing was faked then use that “therefore” to reject “climate science”. In the end there were four (count them, 4)* anonymous online respondents who said the Moon landing was faked AND that climate science was a hoax. Why won’t Psychological Science retract this paper?

The data was so bad, Duarte calls it “go home” data.

I don’t know what’s going on at Psych Science – the stats here were amateurish and deceptive. First, the data here was go home data. If you want to link moon hoax nonsense to your political foes, and in 1145 participants there are only 10 people who endorse that hoax (fewer after you delete the fakes), only 3 of whom endorse the climate hoax idea (fewer after you delete the fakes), you go home. It’s over. If you see similar trivial numbers for the HIV and smoking items, you bail. Go to a show, discover a new restaurant, think about the design of your next study. Those are go home numbers – you definitely don’t write it up.

Duarte asks  “Do we hate our participants?”

This was an awful thing to do. It was damaging to innocent participants. It’s unethical to do this to your participants. It is wildly unethical to invite people to participate in a study, and then do this to them. They are helping us. They are volunteering to participate in scientific research. They’ve take time out of their lives to help us out. And in return, we slander them? We tell the world that they believe things that they do not believe? What Lewandowsky and colleagues did here was despicable.

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A few PR Giants won’t help “deniers of climate change” (but 70% of PR giants will)

The most dangerous thing is a skeptic that can be heard.

If only climate activists had evidence, they wouldn’t need to use social censure, instead of reasoned arguments. But it was never about the science, and always about PR. If skeptical arguments weren’t so powerful, the fans of Climate Change TM wouldn’t be going out of their way to try to silence skeptics.

This article itself is spun. They frame the message to avoid saying that only 28% of PR Firms agreed climate change was a threat or that 60% of PR firms ignored them completely. They only name five PR groups, and at least one (WPP) is a conglomerate of 150 firms which “will all make their own decisions”. So much for that.

The Guardian,of course, gullibly soaks up the meme. Suzanne Goldenberg and Nishad Karim asks no hard questions.

World’s top PR companies rule out working with climate deniers

Ten firms say they will not represent clients that deny man-made climate change or seek to block emisson-reducing regulations

Since no one actually denies the climate changes, this is a bit like refusing to work with Klingons. Though fans of Climate Change TM speak in Spin-English and in that language “climate change” means man-made-catastrophic-weather. In that sense, these firms are boycotting up to 60% of their potential clients. It may not be the best business strategy in a world shifting away from big-spending green projects.

What is most telling, is that even after being repeatedly harrassed by an activist by phone, mail and email from the Climate Investigations Centre, fully 60% of PR companies ignored them completely:

Only 10 of the 25 firms responded to multiple emails, phone calls and certified letters from the CIC, either directly or through a parent company.

And watch the pea, 40% of companies responded, but not all of them ruled out working with “deniers”. Only seven agreed “climate change” was a threat. The number that would boycott “deniers” was described as “smaller” — too small to actually put a number on?

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Green plan causes air pollution, may kill thousands in the UK, thanks to dirty diesel

A Greenpeace Bio-diesel Campaign, November 2000

Golly — who would have thought that policies based on a logical fallacy and a pseudo-religion would be a bad idea? It’s not just bad, it’s deadly. For the last ten years environmentalists and greens told Europeans to buy diesel cars, not petrol, because they produce less CO2. So British people, and a lot of Europe too, did exactly that — lured by generous tax breaks, pushed by the guilt trip if they were thinking of buying a petrol car. The car fleet of the EU was transformed. Back in the early nineties, hardly anyone owned a diesel, but now, as many as half of all new cars in the UK are diesel, and some extra 45 million diesel cars have been bought across Europe. But clean energy turned out to be dirty fuel, with diesels producing tons of small dangerous particulates, black carbon, and other real pollutants.

It’s so bad, the UK is not meeting air pollution standards, and more importantly, by at least one estimate, some 7,000 deaths a year can be attributed to diesel pollution from cars.

Diesel pollution is becoming such an issue in London that Boris Johnson is thinking of charging diesel drivers an extra £10 to drive in London – “a measure that could be copied by as many as 18 other cities. “ A debacle all the way down.

h/t to Colin who helped research the story too. As he describes it, it’s the deadly fruits of greenery.

Telegraph– “Diesel car drivers ‘betrayed’ as EU cracks down on Britain over air pollution”

“For more than a decade, motorists buying diesel cars have enjoyed tax breaks because the cars produce lower levels of carbon dioxide and are more fuel efficient.

Now, Britain is being sued by the European Commission for breaching air pollution limits, because emissions from diesel vehicles are contributing to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year.”

Diesel drivers may feel a bit betrayed, and the guilt trip gets inverted:

Edmund King, the president of the AA, said: “Some drivers will feel betrayed and misled because they were encouraged to go for the dash for diesel. “In the 1990s there was a near hysteria about carbon dioxide, and yet nobody looked at the bigger picture. “The drivers thought they were doing the right thing, but now they are being told that it has serious health implications. They are being made to feel guilty for something that they were encouraged to do.

The UK government taxed petrol driven cars more from 2001, which meant the public shifted to buying the more polluting diesel cars instead. A third of the British fleet is diesel now!

In 2001, Gordon Brown, the then chancellor, overhauled vehicle excise duty so that cars that emitted a higher level of carbon dioxide faced a higher level of vehicle excise duty. Labour introduced the new regime despite official warnings that diesel vehicles emit “10 times the fine particles and up to twice the nitrogen dioxide”. The move prompted a “profound” shift towards diesel cars, which produce lower levels of carbon dioxide because they are about 20 per cent more efficient than petrol engines. Over the past decade, the number of diesel cars on Britain’s roads has risen from 1.6 million to more than 11 million and accounts for a third of vehicles. The latest government statistics show that in 2011, the nation’s 28.5 million cars emitted 150,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, but a further 97,000 tons were given off by just 400,000 HGVs.

Between 7,000 to 13,000 deaths each year in the UK attributed to diesel:

Prof Frank Kelly estimates diesel causes about 7,000 deaths in the UK each year:

Diesel engines in buses, vans, cars and trains may be responsible for thousands of premature deaths a year and cost the NHS billions of pounds, say air pollution health experts. With government figures for 2008 showing 29,000 people dying prematurely from air pollution each year, diesel fuel burned in vehicles could be responsible for around one in four of all air pollution deaths, said Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King’s College, London. -- The Guardian

But Barrett and Yim estimated  in 2012 that diesel emissions from cars, planes and power plants contributed to “an estimated 13,000 premature deaths annually in the United Kingdom.”

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Weekend Unthreaded

A home for lost thoughts.

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Biomass burning kills 250,000 people a year

The headline at Science Daily is that wildfires and other burns lead to climate change. The paper itself asks: “As such, particle burn-off of clouds may be a major underrecognized source of global warming.” For me what matters are the deaths in the here and now:

“We calculate that 5 to 10 percent of worldwide air pollution mortalities are due to biomass burning,” Jacobson said. “That means that it causes the premature deaths of about 250,000 people each year.”

 This is similar to Indur Goklany’s conclusion in 2011:

Killing people with “concern”? Biofuels led to nearly 200,000 deaths (est) in 2010.

In a study  published in  Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Indur Goklany calculated the additional mortality burden of biofuels policies and found that nearly 200,000 people died in 2010 alone, because of efforts to use biofuels to reduce CO2 emissions.

Goklany (2011) estimated that the increase in the poverty headcount due to higher biofuel production between 2010 and 2004 implies 192,000 additional deaths and 6.7 million additional lost DALYs in 2010 alone.

He compared this death tally to the WHO figures for deaths attributed to global warming and finds that the biofuels policies are more deadly. (And he is not including any increase in poverty due to other anti-global warming practices).

What rather matters is how much of this is “wild” fire and how much is agricultural fire. Indur Goklany’s work looked specifically at biofuels, so related to man-made air pollution. From the actual Jacobsen paper it’s clear that this is mostly thought to be man-made fires:

Seiler and Crutzen [1980] further estimated that wildfires in temporal plus boreal forests comprised ~35.7% of all dry matter burned but pointed out that 70–90% of such wildfires were due to human activity (e.g., campfires, debris burning, cigarettes, etc.). Thus, of total world fire emissions today, ~7.1% (3.6%–10.7%) may be natural and the rest, anthropogenic. Houghton [2005] indicates that, in 1850, CO2 emissions from land use change may have been ~34% those in 2005. Thus, in 1850, BB [Burning Biomass] emissions were lower than those today. Such emissions may have been mostly anthropogenic [e.g.,  Marlon et al., 2008] although partly natural as well. Today, BB emissions are much higher with only a small percent natural.

Does black carbon change clouds?

The study goes on to say that black carbon effectively causes global warming too because it heats water droplets, melts clouds and ice,  and reduces the thickness of cloud cover.

So any minute now I expect environmentalists around the world will start a “Boycott Biomass” campaign. Clearly any truly compassionate green could do nothing less since biomass is a net killer, and warms the planet too.

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Broken models predict extreme cold snaps. (CO2 causes every sort of weather.)

Remember how CO2 is supposed to cause warmer winters, and warmer nights? Well now CO2 also produces cold snaps. No matter what weather you get, there is a citation to blame CO2. Nature (the formerly great science journal) and Northeastern University have produced another permutation of outputs from models we know are broken.

The first line in the press release is false and smugly so: “most sci­en­tists — 97 per­cent of them, to be exact — agree that the tem­per­a­ture of the planet is rising and that the increase is due to human activ­i­ties….”  10 seconds on Google would have shown — 60% of geoscientists and engineers don’t agree.

If Kodra and co were trying to be accurate, they could have said “97% of annointed climate scientists agree… “. If they were trying to be scientific, of course, they wouldn’t mention a consensus at all. If they had good evidence, they’d talk about that instead.

They dug deep in The-Book-of-Cliches for the press release. Strip away the advertising spin and I think this is the nub of the work:

“While global tem­per­a­ture is indeed increasing, so too is the vari­ability in tem­per­a­ture extremes. For instance, while each year’s average hottest and coldest tem­per­a­tures will likely rise, those aver­ages will also tend to fall within a wider range of poten­tial high and low tem­perate extremes than are cur­rently being observed. This means that even as overall tem­per­a­tures rise, we may still con­tinue to expe­ri­ence extreme cold snaps…

Essentially, by using a models that didn’t predict the pause, nor the missing hot spot, and with homogenized, reanalyzed data that probably does not resemble the observations, they found something “interesting”. The modern witchdoctors are at work. Runestones, tea-leaves, broken models, what’s the difference?

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Senate Report: Billionaires covertly funding environmental machine

There is a big new 92 page Minority Staff Senate report on “the Billionaires Club” that funnels money through labyrinthine mechanisms and sophisticated tax loopholes to conceal the source of the funding.
It is corruption all the way down…

The Chain of Environmental Command, (2014) United States Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works, Minority Staff Report


…an elite group of left wing millionaires and billionaires, which this report refers to as the “Billionaire’s Club,” who directs and controls the far-left environmental movement, which in turn controls major policy decisions and lobbies on behalf of the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Even more unsettling, a dominant organization in this movement is Sea Change Foundation, a private California foundation, which relies on funding from a foreign company with undisclosed donors. In turn, Sea Change funnels tens of millions of dollars to other large but discreet foundations and prominent environmental activists who strive to control both policy and politics”

The donations are fed to a public charity (with tax benefits), which then forwards the money to a different linked type of organization which is permitted to lobby and campaign politically.

“…what is clear is that these individuals and foundations go to tremendous lengths to avoid public association with the far-left environmental movement they so generously fund. The report attempts to decipher the patterns of “charitable giving.” Often the wealthiest foundations donate large sums to intermediaries – sometimes a pass through and sometimes a fiscal sponsor. The intermediary then funnels the money to other 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations that the original foundation might also directly support. The report offers theories that could explain this bizarre behavior, but at its core, the Billionaire’s Club is not, and seemingly does not, want to be transparent about the groups they fund and how much they are supporting them.
  • Nearly all of the public charities discussed in this report have an affiliated 501(c)(4) that engages in activities designed to influence elections and have no restrictions on their lobbying efforts. The funding of a 501(c)(4) by a 501(c)(3) affiliates is provocative in light of the legal restrictions on public charities from participating in political campaigning, either directly or indirectly, while permitting a 501(c)(4) to significantly engage in campaign activities. (Pg. 14)
In advancing their cause, these wealthy liberals fully exploit the benefits of a generous tax code meant to promote genuine philanthropy and charitable acts, amazingly with little apparent Internal Revenue Service scrutiny. Instead of furthering a noble purpose, their tax deductible contributions secretly flow to a select group of left wing activists who are complicit and eager to participate in the fee-for-service arrangement to promote shared political goals. Moreover, the financial arrangement provides significant insulation to these wealthy elite from the incidental damage they do to the U.S. economy and average Americans.
The “green revolving door” at the EPA uses your tax funds to reward activists with careers, who in turn send more taxpayer funds to friends and colleagues.
“The Billionaire’s Club achieves many of its successes through the “capture” of key employees at EPA. These “successes” are often at the expense of farmers, miners, roughnecks, ii
small businesses, and families. This report proves that the Obama EPA has been deliberately staffed at the highest levels with far-left environmental activists who have worked hand-in-glove with their former colleagues. The green-revolving door at EPA has become a valuable asset for the far-left and their wealthy donors. In addition to providing insider access to important policy decisions, it appears activists now at EPA also funnel government money through grants to their former employers and colleagues. The report tracks the amount of government aid doled out to activist groups and details a troubling disregard for ethics by certain high powered officials.”
  • Under President Obama, EPA has given more than $27 million in taxpayer-funded grants to major environmental groups. Notably, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund – two key activists groups with significant ties to senior EPA officials – have collected more than $1 million in funding each. (Pg. 34)
Is this where the fantasy of “organized networks of skeptics” comes from? Those bizarre spaghetti diagrams with tenuous links are just a “projection” of the real organized networks of lobbyists and activists.

I expect we’ll be discussing the details for some time to come. I have no problem with anonymous donors to real charities, but tax dodging, fake grassroots movements, coupled with political influence, and ultimately amplification through government funds is something else.

Why are some groups allowed to get away with what appears to be a form of tax evasion? Is this selective enforcement (like the IRS Scandal), or can any side of politics get away with it?

REFERENCE:  The Chain of Environmental Command, (2014) United States Senate, Committee on Environment and Public Works, Minority Staff Report
h/t to Randy, Pat, truthseeker, John Smith and James Delingpole’s view too.
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Let’s copy California and have less jobs, less money, less energy. Feel that Green Glory!

NSW (and a lot of Australia) is a closeted corner of the world where electronic news can take decades to arrive. The electrons themselves make it downunder in 150 milliseconds or so, but the message may never make it past the ABC-Fairfax filter. Apparently the highest office in NSW wants to emulate California. It’s like it’s 1994.

“When it comes to clean energy, we can be Australia’s answer to California.”

– Rob Stokes, NSW Environment Minister.*

Maurice Newman sets him straight in The Australian.

In short –  companies are fleeing from a green California to Texas where electricity is half the price. For some reason jobs, profits, products and opportunities are following the energy. California’s unemployment rate is 7.4%. Texas’ is 5.1%.

California dreaming is nuts in NSW

“The NSW government must also be oblivious to the steady exodus of Californian businesses and jobs. Companies like Toyota, which after 60 years has moved its US headquarters to Texas, or Occidental Petroleum, which after 50 years has left for Houston. Chevron is next. Other stalwarts like ARCO, Getty Oil, Union Oil, Fluor, Calpine and Intel have all moved in search of a more business friendly environment and lower energy costs. Texas has been the main beneficiary. It has added 200,000 jobs in the energy sector in the past decade while California has barely managed 20,000. Texas leads California in the export of hi-tech.”

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Did Australian monster volcanoes cause the mass extinction 510m years ago?

Marvel this: It would seem that massive volcanic eruptions in Australia wiped out 50% of all species 510 million years ago.

Try to imagine a volcano so big, the lava flow covers 2 million square kilometers. For US folk, that would be like a volcano that covered California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Idaho and Washington State combined.

(And some people think we are facing a “crisis” today?)

It was, to put it mildly, quite bad news for trilobites which had only been around for a trifling 10 million years at that stage. Otherwise life at that time was sponges, fungi, algae, and on land, attractive sounding things like microbial mats. (I suspect a Cambrian-era-Greenpeace would have struggled to find cuddly photogenic targets. Oops, no cameras either.)


510m years ago that Kalkarindji volcano erupted.  The dashed line indicates the borders of the Kalkarindji “large igneous province.” Image: Fred Jourdan/ Curtin University Department of Applied Geology

I love the grand big-picture in all its imponderable vastness and power. I’m not so enthused on their climate analysis. I half wonder – half marvel at whether we can really figure out what happened that long ago.

The poor researchers are burdened with the culture of bad climate models. You can feel their struggle: volcanic dust causes cooling, but CO2 causes warming.  Which wins? Do we get the ultimate volcanic winter or will that be global warming? Answer, apparently “both”:

“The study states it would result in “rapid climate changes and climate oscillations.”

Translation, Jourdan said: “Game over.”

“It was a yo-yo effect,” Jourdan says. “You had a long-term warming with the greenhouse gasses, but also a back-and-forth between warming and a cooling.”” — Washington Post

I wonder what resolution they get on that climate yo-yo 510,000,000 years ago. Were those annual, decadal, or centennial swings?

Their climate speculation aside, I found the rest of the paper intriguing. It was first released at the end of May.


Australia’s deadly eruptions were reason for the first mass extinction

[Curtin University, May 30th 2014]

A Curtin University researcher has shown that ancient volcanic eruptions in Australia 510 million years ago significantly affected the climate, causing the first known mass extinction in the history of complex life.

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Gina McCarthy, EPA: carbon reduction is not about pollution – it’s about money

I don’t think Gina McCarthy had thought this through. McCarthy to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:

“And the great thing about this proposal is it really is an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control. It’s about increased efficiency at our plants…It’s about investments in renewables and clean energy. It’s about investments in people’s ability to lower their electricity bills by getting good, clean, efficient appliances, homes, rental units,”
“This is an investment strategy that will really not just reduce carbon pollution but will position the United States to continue to grow economically in every state, based on their own design,” McCarthy added.

She is discussing something called the Clean Power Plan. Mark this day. She goes on to find the perpetual motion machine of economics:

Sir, what I know about this rule is that I know it will leave the United States in 2030 with a more efficient and cleaner energy supply system — and more jobs in clean energy, which are the jobs of the future,” McCarthy responded.

The EPA doesn’t just have a landline to God. They are God. They can use less energy to generate more wealth, more employment, and global peace.

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Weekend Unthreaded

A place for roving thoughts …

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Half the world is immune to “expert consensus” they don’t think scientists know what they are talking about

The headline here is that nearly half the population don’t think climate scientists know what they are talking about. Effectively thse people are immune to the 97% consensus figure. Who cares if most “experts” agree, if the blind are leading the blind?  The most skeptical of environmental scientists were the people of China, Japan, and Germany. Two thirds of Swedes, on the other hand, still trust environmental scientists.

Ipsos Mori  conducted this massive survey. Though, like many international multi-lingual endevours, there are confounding conflicts in the answers. All up, 16,000 online adults based in 20 countries were asked some interesting questions, and sometimes their answers made sense, but unfortunately we just can’t be sure when. In China 75% of respondents think scientists don’t know what they are talking about; 51% think that current climate change is natural, but 93% think it is also largely man-made. So 42% think that it’s our fault but it’s also natural. I suspect there is a language barrier. The Chinese were simultaneously the most paranoid cynics and the most dutiful recyclers. They were the third most skeptical nation while being the single most fervent believers and both simultaneously. Perhaps someone who knows more about China than I do can explain that contradiction?

The four most skeptical nations were respectively, the US, Great Britain, Australia and Russia. A recent large and detailed poll of the UK with full demographic information showed 62% of the UK (or GB, as it is listed below) were skeptical and didn’t believe the recent floods in the UK were “man-made” through climate change. That detailed poll was more internally consistent than this international one. It also showed there was a higher proportion of skeptics among the well educated, and the largest contingent of believers was left in the unskilled worker category.

Ipsos Mori did the survey and their website has all the percentages on every bar as well. Their data is available here.

Environmental scientists don’t know what they are talking about:

Total 48% agree. 42% disagree.

q3 Even the scientists don’t really know what they are talking about on environmental issues.

58% of Germans agree that environmental scientists are guessing what goes on. 54% in India (they are quite skeptical overall). Around 43% of people from Britain, the US and Australia agree.

Look out! Disaster coming.

But what kind of disaster? Other studies show people worry about smog, litter and other stuff before they worry about the climate. And people generally worry about everything else — like the economy and jobs, before they worry about the environment. Only 3% of Americans named “The Environment/Pollution” as the top issue. The question: “We are headed for an environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly” is the loaded motherhood type question that doesn’t ask people to rank different fears or put a dollar value on their fears.  A CSIRO survey showed 80% of Australians chose not to voluntarily pay money for “the environment”.

q1 We are headed for an environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly.

Governments just want your money:

Europe leads the pack. Fittingly, the Spanish lead the pack that leads the pack.

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The mystery of cooling deep ocean, volcanoes, and missing heat

That deep heat almost seems to coincide with Atlantic and Southern Ocean volcanoes?

All roads lead to the ocean. This time, though, we’re talking about the mysterious deep abyss, below 2,000m and even below 3,600m. Wunsch et al, claim the data shows the deep ocean cooled by one hundredth of a degree in the last 19 years. But they admit that really… this could just be noise. (Well, shock me.) But they have some new and glorious heat maps, and I use those to do some wild speculation about volcanoes.

When all is said and done, there are three inescapable oceanic truths:

  1. Around 90% of all the energy in the Earth’s climate system is in the oceans.
  2. Thou shalt not create nor destroy energy.
  3. If there was an energy imbalance running day after day, gazillions of Joules of energy must be somewhere. They cannot “pause”, take holidays, nor appear in future without being present in the now.

Despite the 95% certainty among 97% of certified “climate scientists”, no one can find that energy. Thus the social-science-fact meets the physical-science-fact. Which “fact” should we spend billions on? The stone-age approach is to go with the “doctors” not the data, and western civilization seems pretty comfortable with that.

In the end, the uncertain data and lower-than-expected warming are the foundations under the “95%” certainty, and those statements should be accorded all the scientific respect that any political slogan deserves.

Some glorious heat-maps.

The first map shows how patchy the ocean is, which makes it all the more difficult to measure accurately.

Figure 14: Di fference in heat content of the annual average of 2011 minus that of 1993, H (0;-h; 2011) – H (0;-h; 1993) : The strong spatial structure represents a major observational challenge to determining an accurate mean change.

Secondly, Wunsch slice through the depths, so we can see that the top 700m is warming near Greenland, and in the Western Pacific. But the potential hot spots below 2000m areon the other side of the planet. How curious?

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What meetings are like for engineers

The sole engineer meets project managers, designers, and marketers. Love it!

H/t to Eric Worrall.

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Get rid of the rogue EPA and pointless “climate” policies. Governments can’t change the weather.

One day people will marvel that turn of the century governments thought they could control the climate, and needed to issue decrees about how much “change” in the weather they would allow.

From different continents come two articles with a similar theme. It’s time to dump the EPA and pointless “Climate” policies.

The US should get rid of the federal EPA

Alan Caruba and Jay Lehr tell us how it is. The EPA is a rogue tool of liberal activitists.

For years now I have been saying that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be eliminated and its powers given to the fifty states, all of which, have their own departments of environmental protection. Until now, however, there has been no plan put forth to do so.

Dr. Jay Lehr has done just that and his plan no doubt will be sent to the members of Congress and the state governors. Titled “Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency” it should be read by everyone who, like Dr. Lehr, has concluded that the EPA was a good idea when it was introduced in 1971, but has since evolved into a rogue agency threatening the U.S. economy, attacking the fundamental concept of private property, and the lives of all Americans in countless and costly ways.

Years ago Lehr called for the EPA to be established.  For him now, it’s beyond saving.

 “The takeover of EPA and all of its activities by liberal activists was slow and methodical over the past 30 years. Today, EPA is all but a wholly owned subsidiary of liberal activist groups. Its rules account for about half of the nearly $2 trillion a year cost of complying with all national regulations in the U.S. President Barack Obama is using it to circumvent Congress to impose regulations on the energy sector that will cause prices to ‘skyrocket.’ It is a rogue agency.”

Dr. Lehr says that “Incremental reform of EPA is simply not an option.”  He’s right.

Lehr is very specific — he wants an 80% chop:

Eliminating the EPA would provide a major savings by eliminating 80% of its budget. The remaining 20% could be used to run its research labs and administer the Committee of the Whole of the 50 state environmental agencies. “The Committee would determine which regulations are actually mandated in law by Congress and which were established by EPA without congressional approval.”

Dr. Lehr estimates the EPA’s federal budget would be reduced from $8.2 billion to $2 billion. Staffing would be reduced from more than 15,000 to 300 and that staff would serve in a new national EPA headquarters he recommends be “located centrally in Topeka, Kansas, to allow the closest contact with the individual states.” The staff would consist of six delegate-employees from each of the 50 states.”

Does Australia need a ‘climate policy’ at all?

Don Aitkin gives us six reasons we don’t:

First, no country can have a sensible policy on climate by itself, because climate is not governed by national boundaries. Second, not even the UN can have a sensible policy, because climate is not governed by laws and regulations. Third, we can do something about the effects of weather, which is much more concern to everyone because weather is local, and affects our daily life. Fourth, but we can’t stop weather, or even predict it with any great success, because we lack deep knowledge about the basic components of weather (and climate). Fifth, it may be that we will never possess such knowledge. Sixth, the evidence continues to mount that carbon dioxide is not, after all, the control knob of the planet’s temperature, and if it is not, then the preceding reasons become overwhelming.

But we all know we aren’t spending billions to change the weather, and this was never about the environment.

Aitkin puts his finger on the real reason:

The radio news bulletin I heard soon after the [carbon tax repeal] bill had passed yesterday included a Labor woman politico’s claiming that ‘Australia will be the laughing stock of the world!’ That too was said in an exasperated tone.

There you have it. We have a climate policy because “we’d be  laughing stock” without one. We spend billions because it’s a national status symbol among the global cafe-latte set.

Aitkin reminds us how little most of the world cares about our place in the pecking order:

I get puzzled by statements of this kind, for Australia plays a tiny place in the thoughts and actions of ‘the world’. Novice Australian travellers learn quickly that there is no Australian news in any of the world’s major papers, or on any nation’s radio or television networks. When I lived and worked in the UK, before the days of the Internet, one needed a quick trip to Australia House in London to find out what had happened, and who had won what. Many, many Australians abroad needed to make such trips.

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Salmon quite happy to adapt to warmer world

You will never guess, but salmon that survived the hot Holocene period, and the even hotter Eemian, will probably be OK in a slightly warmer world. Expert researchers found this surprising.

Given the broad spread of Salmon in the Northern Hemisphere, and their past survival through every single interglacial warm period of the Pleistocene, I would have thought that they could cope with quite a bit of  climate change. As it turns out, they cope so well, that even salmon eggs that come from a 12C environment can be raised in an environment a whopping 8C warmer, and they were not noticeably any worse off.

Part of the concern with salmon was the spawning and eggs, and the problem with getting the salmon to shift their maternity wards and childcare arrangements (which they seem very attached too). But presumably those breeding grounds have varied before in temperature, and salmon didn’t die out, so — at least with this problem — nature has it figured out.

Map: Salmon and Climate Change, Fish in hot water, Red List.

Atlantic salmon also show capacity to adapt to warmer waters

Populations of Atlantic salmon have a surprisingly good capacity to adjust to warmer temperatures that are being seen with climate change, a group of scientists at the University of Oslo and University of British Columbia have discovered. The finding about Atlantic species adds to recent UBC-supported research on heat tolerance of Pacific salmon.

The new study, a collaboration between Norwegian and Canadian researchers, was recently published in Nature Communications. Funded by the Norwegian Research Council, it addressed questions around how climate change might affect salmon species distribution and abundance.

UBC authors of the study include Katja Anttila, a postdoctoral fellow who now works at the University of Turku in Finland, and Tony Farrell, Chair in Sustainable Aquaculture.

Scientists studied wild salmon from two European rivers. They compared a cold-water population from Norway’s northern Alta River, where water temperatures have not exceeded 18 C for 30 years, with warm-water populations from France’s Dordogne River, located 3,000 kilometres south, where annual water temperatures regularly exceed 20 C.

Eggs from both populations were hatched at the University of Oslo, where they were raised at 12 or 20 C. Despite substantially different natural environments, both populations had remarkably similar capabilities when warmed.

When reared at 12 C temperatures, salmon from both populations developed cardiac arrhythmias at 21 to 23 C, after a maximum heart rate of 150 beats per minute. But those raised at 20 C developed cardiac arrhythmias at a surprising 27.5 C, after the heart reached 200 beats per minute. Researchers found that increasing the fish’s acclimation temperature by 8 C raised temperature tolerance by 6 C.

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97 percent of Australian renewables investment dries up without subsidies (so the ABC gives free adverts to the industry)

We’re told “clean” energy is a viable and cost effective. But cut the government subsidies, and 97 percent of investors vanish (in Australia it’s collapsed from $2.6b annually to $80m). The truth is that renewables are almost totally dependent on taxpayer largess. No wonder they lobby like their life depends on it. It does.

Peter Hannam of the SMH:

“Australia’s investment in renewable energy all but dried up in the first half of 2014 amid uncertainty fuelled by the government’s latest review of the mandatory target, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In the six months to June, just $40 million was invested in large-scale renewable energy, such as wind farms, the lowest level since the first half of 2001, according to Kobad Bhavnagri, head of BNEF’s Australian unit.

The investment tally compared with $2.691 billion in 2013, the second largest annual inflow of funds to the clean energy sector behind the peak year of 2010.”

Elsewhere investment in renewables has slowed from its peak in 2011 but still running at $64b a quarter, or nearly $700 million every day. Spot that vested interest! From The Australian:

“Global clean energy investment surged to $US63.6bn in the second quarter of 2014, up 33% compared to the first quarter and 9% compared to Q2 2013, according to the latest authoritative figures from research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance.”

The ABC runs free disguised advertising for the renewables sector

One oil and gas worker is worth 10 renewables workers, not that the ABC will say so. Today ABC online reports that “Mr George says 24,000 jobs are at stake – almost as many jobs as in the oil and gas industry.” Miles George is the managing director of wind power firm Infigen Energy, and chairman of industry body the Clean Energy Council. Obviously, he’s out to drum up sympathy for his industry.

ABC “resources” reporter Sue Lannin didn’t mention that those 24,000 people in the renewables energy sector provide only 6% of our total energy needs, while 24,000 or so in “oil and gas” provide 60%.

Pie Chart source EIA.  (Click to enlarge)


The photo chosen for the story on the poor plight of 24,000 not-very-useful workers subsidized by the taxpayer is this sunset shot of wind-turbines, where the turbines are almost the same color as the sky behind them. The caption implies Joe Hockey is being unreasonable thinking these almost invisible towers are “offensive”.

The ABC could’ve chosen to use the EIA graph instead, but you need to visit an unfunded blogger to get that sort of perspective. :-)   (At a billion dollars a year, the ABC’s role apparently is to provide adverts telling Australians to pay more tax.)

In ABC-world renewables are “booming” and “soaring”

The ABC reported the fall in Australian renewables investment as if everywhere else in the world was doing the opposite.

They didn’t mention that Europe is in the grip of a coal boom, or that Germany is cutting its renewable subsidies, as well as their RET (from 30% to 27%). Spain is retrospectively capping its renewables subsides, lopping 40% off the earnings of its largest solar operator. There were public protests about electricity prices in Bulgaria that were so bad, the government is demanding some subsides get paid back!

Our public funded broadcaster provides third party free advertising for the renewables industry. Mark Colvin made out that investment is “soaring” everywhere except Australia, but doesn’t mention that overall, renewables investment is lower today than it was in 2011. ABC listeners come away misinformed.

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Outgoing UK Environment Minister says green groups are profiteering anti-capitalist agit-prop

Some extraordinary statements from Owen Paterson, the man who was the UK Environment Secretary until a week ago. This is baking hot. Paterson also draws attention to the way big-goverment has fed big-government lobbyists 150 million euros since 2007. Can we get this man to Australia? — Jo

I’m proud of standing up to the green lobby

The Telegraph UK I leave the post with great misgivings about the power and irresponsibility of – to coin a phrase – the Green Blob.

By this I mean the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape. This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interests of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely.

Local conservationists on the ground do wonderful work to protect and improve wild landscapes, as do farmers, rural businesses and ordinary people. They are a world away from the highly paid globe-trotters of the Green Blob who besieged me with their self-serving demands, many of which would have harmed the natural environment.

I soon realised that the greens and their industrial and bureaucratic allies are used to getting things their own way. I received more death threats in a few months at Defra than I ever did as secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

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Notching up open review improvements – a correction to Part III

Flagging an update (coming) to Big News Part III

Score 1 for open science review, thanks to Bernie Hutchins, an electrical engineer who diligently asked the right questions about something that bothered him regarding the notching effect. We’re grateful. This will improve the model. On the downside, it means we’re slightly less certain of the delay (darn) — the notch doesn’t guarantee a delay as we had previously thought. But there is independent evidence suggesting temperatures on Earth follow solar activity with a one cycle delay — the lag seen in studies like Archibald, Friis-Christainsen and Usoskin is still a lag.

What does it mean? The step-response graph (figure 2 in Part III or figure 4 in Part IV) will change, and needs to be redone. The reason for assuming there is a delay, and building it into the model, rests now on the independent studies, and not on the notch. The new step change will need to be built into the model, and in a few weeks we’ll know how the predictions or hindcasting change. David feels reasonably sure it won’t make much difference to the broad picture, because a step-response something like figure 4, Part IV, explains global warming fairly well and will presumably arise again with the new method. But obviously it needs to be done to be certain.

The irony is that it was the FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) that produced what appeared to be a “non-causal” notch (and if it was non-causal, it would necessarily mean a delay). If David had used his slower OFT (Optimal Fourier Transform) the mistake might not have arisen, because, unlike the DFT and FFT, the OFT uses frequencies whose periods do not divide exactly into the length of the time series. In one of the those quixotic paths to understanding, the incorrect clue of a solar delay of one cycle “fitted” with the other evidence, and possibly David wouldn’t have seen the pattern if he’d used the OFT.

The previous post Big News Part III needs correcting (which is coming), and Bernie Hutchins needs a big thank you. Without his time and effort in comments, David would not have spotted the problem in the code. And it’s so much the better to know it sooner rather than later.     — Jo


 David Evans replies to Bernie Hutchins

That graph of the phase of your transfer function matches mine, so that pretty much seals it at your end. You appear to be analyzing the correct notch filter.

Your remark that “might have meant the DFT and not the FT” was an important clue. I had used DFT/FFT’s to get the spectrum of the step function. The DFT implicitly assumes a time series repeats to infinity — because the DFT uses only frequencies whose periods exactly divide into the length of the time series. The response I was calculating was therefore of a series of rectangular pulses, even though I was calculating the responses of a times series that was all zeros in the first half and all ones in the second half (so it looked like a step function). When I check the spectrum of what I thought was the step function, I now see that it has only the first, third, fifth etc harmonics — just like the Fourier series of a train of rectangular pulses. The amplitudes have the 1/f dependence like the spectrum of a step function, but the even-numbered harmonics are missing — but they are not missing in the spectrum of a step function.

So that finally resolves the discrepancy. My response was to a train of rectangular pulses and was incorrect. Yours was to a step function, and presumably is correct (it makes sense intuitively, but I haven’t checked it numerically yet).

Bernie, thanks for helping me find the bug, and thank you for your persistence. Well done! I am in your debt. I asked many people to check it, but you are the only one to find the problem. It is good to get this sorted out. (One other person calculated a response in Mathematica but the response seemed to come from infinity near t=0 as I recall, so something was wrong there.)

Everything else about the method worked, so my usual checks didn’t find any problems. The low pass filter and delay work just as well on a train of pulses as on a step function, so they appeared ok. Just changing the length of the time series usually exposes problems like this, because extending the time-series should not make any difference, so if it does there is a problem. In this case I had pushed it out from its usual 200 years to 20,000 years, and it made no difference. Changing the rate at which the function was sampled also made no difference. So it all seemed to check out numerically. It turns out the spectrum of a series of pulses is fundamentally different to a step function, so I was just consistently getting the wrong answer.

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