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

Weekend Unthreaded

For roving ideas…

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.2/10 (25 votes cast)

Under pressure, Australian BOM puts up facade of “transparency” — too little, too late

Bottom line: The BOM has added a page listing “Adjustments”. It’s two years late, inadequate and incomplete. Skeptics shouldn’t have had to ask for it in the first place, and we still don’t have the algorithms and codes, or rational answers to most questions.  No one can replicate the mystery black box homogenisation methods of the BOM — and without replication, it isn’t science. There is still no explanation of why an excellent station like Rutherglen should change from cooling to warming, except for vague “statistics”, or why any station should be adjusted without documentary evidence, based on thermometers that might be 300 km away.

Lo and behold, the pressure from The Australian and independent analysts means the BOM has made a weak belated attempt to do what it has implied it always has done. When Michael Brown provided cover for the BOM he said the notion that scientists were hiding data was “pseudoscience”. The BOM, meanwhile, added a page called “Adjustments”, two years after launching “ACORN”, quietly admitting that the skeptics were right. They did not correct Brown’s baseless namecalling. Other apologists for their inexplicable anomalies, major adjustments or errors – like David Karoly — demand the skeptics publish in the peer reviewed literature before they will even consider their point of view, but neither Karoly nor the BOM can name the peer reviewed document, or any publication or link, with the full homogenization code. How can skeptics discuss a method in the peer review literature which is not publicly available? The BOM homogenization technique remains a black box method that cannot be replicated — only the secret guild of anointed BOM staff are privy to the details.

Let’s open that BOM black box: let’s have a replication of the homogenization process, open to public inspection, so it can be audited. So everyone can see where every homogenized number came from, back to the raw data and the adjustments. No public company could shield its finances from observation like this: they have to produce audited accounts every six months that show all money in the company bank account, all money owed, and all money owing. All of it.

And once we have replication, then we can have an informed discussion of the ramifications of the current homogenization process, and how it might be improved or made more realistic.

Is the BOM a science agency or a PR bureau?

On August 29 2014 the BOM said it had published everything:

BOM said its methods had been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals but did not say where or in what form.

Later on Sept 11, 2014, the BOM says they have finally complied with a recommendation made years ago:

A spokesman for BoM said “publication of this table meets the Bureau of Meteorology response to the recommendations of the Independent Peer Review Panel”.

So which is it? Either they were wrong before that the methods were published, or they are repeating  information now and pretending it is new in the hope of getting the critics off their back. The answer is “both”. It was inadequate before. It’s still inadequate now.

The new “adjustments” page doesn’t resolve much at all. There are still blatant errors — The changes to long term trends in minima are not “neutral”,  but increase the trend by nearly 50% (See Ken Stewart’s site here and the finished set here). The hottest day in Australia was almost certainly not in Albany in 1933 (which remains uncorrected at 51C). Many maximums have been adjusted and become lower than minimums. Those mistakes did not exist in the raw data. The homogenisation has created them, like the new discontinuity in Deniliquin.

The adjustments page is just a glorified rehash of the same old excuses

Effectively the bureau is saying “we need large mysterious transformations of data to make Australian trends look like international trends”. What serious climate scientist thinks Australia is supposed to get hotter, colder, wetter, drier, or cloudier with the exact same timing and patterns to the rest of the world? Even high schoolers know that when it rains on the East Coast with El Ninos, it’s not raining on the other side of the Pacific. Just because other homogenizations have produced the same trends by blending data to the point where it is unrecognisable does not make it “good” science.

Lots of international bankers were marketing the same overrated mortage bundles. Anyone want to buy subprime science — I have a collateralized trend for sale?

Three years ago the independent audit team, with Senator Cory Bernardi, asked for an ANAO audit of the BOM’s “High Quality” HQ data set. The BOM was not enthused. They dumped the HQ set that they had previously lauded and set up a new one called “ACORN”. We listed some of the errors in June 2012. Two years on, nothing much appears to have changed. They still haven’t released the algorithms used in the homogenization process. They are still using stations more than 100km away, some 600 km away, to “adjust” temperatures.  The mystery black box adjustments are still producing inexplicable nonsense, and the BOM still can’t explain why — on individual stations like Rutherglen and Bourke — anyone should find their adjustments necessary and scientifically justified. There is no documentation showing Rutherglen has moved. But there is documentation suggesting perhaps Bourke’s deleted “hottest” day really might have been 125F in 1909.

The BOM’s active silence on the long hot records of the late 1880s and 1890s suggests they are more interested in promoting one message — “it’s warming” — rather than being custodians of the real and more complicated history of the Australian climate.

The BOM still hides the “warming” effect of their mysterious adjustment procedure

The official CAWCR Technical Report No. 04 claimed the adjustments were “balanced”:

“There is an approximate balance between positive and negative adjustments for maximum temperature but a weak tendency towards a predominance of negative adjustments (54% compared with 46% positive) for minimum temperature.”

Even in 2014, the BOM still maintains that the adjustments do not affect the national trends:

“And the bureau says an extensive study has found homogeneity adjustments have little impact on national trends and changes in temperature extremes.” — August 23, 2014

But a simple analysis shows this to be a misleading half-truth. The number of adjustments may be balanced, but Ken Stewart shows that the size of the warming adjustments is so much larger than the cooling adjustments that nationally the mimimum trend are warmed by nearly 50%. Given that skeptics pointed out the size of adjustments was larger two years ago, it would appear the Bureau is aware of the problem, but instead of justifying or fixing it, they carefully created ACORN so they could be seen to answer the critics while maintaining the same bias in the results. Seeming, not doing.

Where are the computer codes?

BOM’s 2011 independent panel called for the release of the computer codes:

recommended a list of adjustments be made publicly available along with the adjusted temperature series including the rationale for each adjustment. It said the computer codes underpinning the national ACORNSAT data-set, including the algorithms and protocols used by BOM for data quality control, should be made publicly available.”

Graham Lloyd’s article in The Australian yesterday shows that the BOM is under pressure, but their lack of transparency continues, and this new page appears to be more like a public relations effort than a big advance scientifically.

What Australia needs is a full working replication of the BOM methods and techniques — only then does a true scientific peer review process begin. If the BOM is so sure it’s doing obvious world’s best practice, why won’t it release the full code? Unpacking and replicating this detailed procedure would take months of analysis. If the Australian government is serious about our climate, they need to fund a proper independent study instead of leaving it to volunteers to do on the weekend, and hoping that someone with the right combination of IT, statistical, climate, and scientific skills will find it entertaining and want to do it for free.

The Greens would surely support more funding for climate research and a better, more rigorous Australian climate database. To oppose independent replication of the BOM procedures is to admit that they prefer the BOM to be a PR agency, not a scientific group.

Bureau of Meteorology warms to transparency over adjusted records

 THE Bureau of Meteorology has been forced to publish details of all changes made to historic temperature records as part of its homogenisation process to establish the nation’s climate change trend.

Publication of the reasons for all data adjustments was a key recommendation of the bureau’s independent peer review panel which approved the bureau’s ACORN SAT methodology.

BoM posted a new site on its ACORN SAT website on Monday, two weeks after being questioned by The Australian about the transparency of its homogenisation process.

Independent researchers had been calling for publication of BoM’s methodology for more than two years.

The Australian

All my posts on the BOM show that there are still more questions than answers.


The page for ACORN-SAT data.

The page for the entire computer code… does not exist.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.5/10 (131 votes cast)

The lost climate knowledge of Deacon 1952: hot dry summers from 1880-1910

Once upon a time, Australian climate scientists discussed and published climate trends of the late 1800s. And lo, the long lost hot weather decades were apparent in many places in inland South Eastern Australia. While skeptics are accused of cherry picking data from Bourke, Rutherglen and Deniliquin, there are plenty of other examples. In the last post, the 1953 Argus story described hotter drier summers in Omeo, Bendigo, Hay, Bourke, Alice Springs, Echuca, Albury, and Cooma. Here is a Deacon et al peer reviewed graph of the long term trends at Hay, Narrabri, Bourke and Alice Springs.

Thanks to Chris Gillham for finding the Deacon paper of 1952. [On another point, I'll have a response up to the new BOM "adjustments" page later. In short, their data still has many inexplicable errors like where maxima are lower than minima, and they are still not providing all the details we need to replicate their data and homogenization methods. - Jo]

But just have a look at this graph. Degrees Fahrenheit of course. State of the art, 1952.


These  cooling trends cover “only” a couple of million square kilometers of Australia:

The location of Alice Springs, Bourke, Narrabri, and Hay (Click to enlarge)

Imagine, they even had barometric data from 1880 in small country towns of NSW.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.1/10 (81 votes cast)

1953 Headline: Melbourne’s weather is changing! Summers getting colder and wetter

The average maximum temperatures [of SE Australia] during the last 35 years were between two and four degrees (F) lower than the average for the previous 35 years. — CSIRO 1953

Once upon a time — before the Great Politicization of Climate Science — CSIRO was able to analyze trends from 1880 to 1910. In 1953 CSIRO scientists were making a case that large parts of Australia had been hotter in the 1880s and around the turn of last century. They are referring specifically to summer maximums, and presumably the increase in rainfall over the same period played a large role in preventing hot days from becoming hotter. Minimum and mean trends may have been quite different, but these older maximum records are surely relevant when news headlines are drafted today about hot summers and heatwaves.

So what happened to the widespread lost hot decades?

I have a lot more to say on the warm and the work of these scientists. For the moment, the full archived news story is entertaining in its own right. Thanks to Chris Gillham for this link and to Jennifer Marohasy. Graphs tomorrow : – )

– Jo


The Argus (Melbourne, Vic) Wednesday 18 March 1953


by Gordon Williams
The days are cooler than they used to be, and our summers ARE wetter – much wetter than they were when the older people of today were young.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.9/10 (88 votes cast)

Scientists invent time-travelling models that “might have worked”

You won’t believe…

Research shows surprise global warming ‘hiatus’ could have been forecast

[The Guardian]  Australian and US climate experts say with new ocean-based modelling tools, the early 2000s warming slowdown was foreseeable.
Australian and US researchers have shown that the slowdown in the rate of global warming in the early 2000s, known as a so-called “global warming hiatus”, could have been predicted if today’s tools for decade-by-decade climate forecasting had been available in the 1990s.

And I’ve got a model that would have predicted the 1987 stock market crash, the GFC, and the winner of the Melbourne Cup. What I would not have predicted is that lame excuses this transparent, would be made by people calling themselves scientists, Gerald Meehl, and repeated by people calling themselves journalists. (That’s you, Melissa Davey). Though I’m not surprised that research this weak had to be published by Nature. (Where else?)

Although global temperatures remain close to record highs, they have shown little warming trend over the past 15 years, a slowdown that earlier climate models had been largely unable to predict.

This has been used by climate change sceptics as evidence that climate change prediction models are flawed.

Imagine that, the stupid skeptics think that “climate change prediction models” ought to be able to predict climate change.

But climate scientistsTM are working with different and special models. These ones are able to travel back through time to make their “predictions” from after the event.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (128 votes cast)

Egypt went from wetter to drier three times in Predynastic times with perfect CO2 levels

Back when CO2 levels were ideal, and there were 1 billion less cars than today, monsoons always happened in the same place, the rain was the same year after year, and there were no local extinctions of animals.

If we could only return to renewable slave power:

[ScienceDaily] The researchers identified five episodes over the past 6,000 years when dramatic changes occurred in Egypt’s mammalian community, three of which coincided with extreme environmental changes as the climate shifted to more arid conditions. These drying periods also coincided with upheaval in human societies, such as the collapse of the Old Kingdom around 4,000 years ago and the fall of the New Kingdom about 3,000 years ago.

“There were three large pulses of aridification as Egypt went from a wetter to a drier climate, starting with the end of the African Humid Period 5,500 years ago when the monsoons shifted to the south,” Yeakel said. “At the same time, human population densities were increasing, and competition for space along the Nile Valley would have had a large impact on animal populations.”

No climate models were harmed in the production of this paper.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.7/10 (62 votes cast)

“Democracy hurting our climate response” — closet totalitarians at the ABC again

The ABC Drum Pater Burdon asks:   Is democracy hurting our climate change response?

Indeed! Burdon is impressed with Naomi Orsekes’ speculation that China will “weather” the climate change storm because it is an undemocratic (and glorious communist) state.  This same country builds the equivalent of a new coal powered plant every 10 days, and suffers from smogifying pollution so crippling that up to 250,000 people may be dying of it. Let’s try that “centralized” government where peaceful activists and people who complain about corruption get jailed or risk torture. And who could forget the “success” of big-government in China last century — no other style of government has successfully killed as many people, ever.


Is it democracy that is blocking progress on climate change or the current limited version of it that pervades Western society? Peter D Burdon writes.

The third possibility is that democracy is working just fine, and the masses of “dumb” voters have it right. What if believers can’t convince the voters that their alarming-tax-plan can stop the storms because the case for a carbon-crisis is pathetically weak? Could it be that people don’t need a degree in the history of feminist art to see that climate scientists got it wrong, there is still snow, and the world is not like the simulations?

This is something Burton and the ABC fans simply can’t imagine:

“The strongest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter.”

This glib remark supposedly from Winston Churchill encapsulates a scepticism that many people have about democracies and their ability to respond to a crisis. Democracy, according to this view, is an endless meeting that provides everyone (regardless of their expertise or ignorance) an equal say.

The real failure of democracy

The current failure of democracy is that Western nations are spending so much to solve a problem that most of their citizens don’t want their money spent on.

Badly designed polls with vague motherhood type questions can make it look like half the population wants to “do something”. But better polls show that most people don’t want to spend anything. In the UK 62% of people are skeptics.  Globally, 63% don’t want their dollars spent on the environment…. The environment is low on the list of concerns, and only 3% of Americans name “environment” as the top issue.  Worse for alarmists, climate change is low on the list of environmental issues — in Australia “climate change” ranked 7th out 8 of environmental concerns.

When big-government fails, the answer is more and bigger government

The inefficiency of democratic governance in responding to crisis is acknowledged in the wartime practice of increasing executive power and suspending debate and ordinary decision-making mechanisms.

Following this example, a number of climate advocates have begun considering the benefits of greater centralisation in decision-making to mitigate the devastating scenarios offered by climate scientists.

For example, in an interview about her new book The Collapse of Western Civilization, Naomi Oreskes argued: “If anyone will weather this storm it seems likely that it will be the Chinese.”

And so collective self reinforcing blindness makes it possible for Peter Burdon to suggest that the nation which produces more greenhouse emissions than any other nation, where democracy doesn’t exist, and where human rights are a real issue,  might somehow be a nation we can look up to? A great leap forward indeed.

The largest moneyed interest stays invisible

Burton talks about the effect of “vested interests” on democracy, but completely misses the largest single vested interest by far.

Oh, the conspiracy of it all…

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (96 votes cast)

Get the t-shirt

Order today :-)

Buy a T-Shirt to help get Patrick Moore to Australia.

Wear it to BBQ’s to spark some fun.

LAST CHANCE TO ORDER – $30.00 (includes postage)
Details here:
They need 30 more orders to reach the amount for cheaper printing



UPDATE: Responding to comments.  Messages on t-shirts do not have to be logical, grammatically correct, nor literally accurate. The more people who wear this the better.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.8/10 (54 votes cast)

46% of 70,000 Australians say they don’t believe humans cause global warming

Ninemsn (major network news in Australia) held a small poll on it’s home page on Friday, asking Do you believe global warming is man-made?

The ratio stayed roughly the same from start to finish. (Here, early on, it was 44% skeptical).

Matty  in Perth kept track of the tally, and while the poll seems to have disappeared off the home page (can anyone find an archive?) at last count it was 39,899 yes and 33,960 no which was 46% skeptic of a total of 73,859 votes.

Of course, these are unrepresentative, self selecting polls. It underestimates the number of skeptics. The latest CSIRO survey shows 53% of the Australian population don’t agree that “humans are causing climate change”. Nonetheless, we trust Nine news notices the large response of its own audience. There will be some major ratings wins out there for whichever commercial news service notices that almost everything they broadcast on climate change is a bore and a turn-off for half their audience.

And as far as the ABC goes, as I’ve said before, when it gives 50% of its climate budget and time to skeptical arguments we will know it is fulfilling its charter.

Image thanks to the Galileo Movement on Facebook. (Hop over and buy a T-Shirt)

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.7/10 (77 votes cast)

Weekend Unthreaded

For otherwise homeless thoughts…

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.1/10 (20 votes cast)

Sir Paul Nurse, once a respected scientist, is reduced to mud-wrestling

He’s the new President of the British Science Association (I bet they are loving this media coverage) and has decided to move on from the old technique of debating scientific points on their merits. It’s too slow (especially if you don’t have… evidence). Instead he’s going with retro-science — Do you believe, sinner? It’s so retro, it’s retro-the-renaissance.

The Daily Mail UK

Politicians who do not believe in climate change should be ‘crushed and buried’, according to the new president of the British Science Association.

How much belief is enough, I wonder, to avoid the crushing? If a politician believed in the greenhouse theory but not the catastrophe, is that half crushed, or do we skip the squishing and go straight for the burying?

Sir Paul Nurse, who starts his presidency next week, pledged to ‘take on’ the ‘serial offenders’ who he accused of cherry picking scientific facts to suit their arguments.

In an extraordinary outburst, Sir Paul accused those who refuse to accept scientific orthodoxy on global warming of ‘distorting’ the facts.

Sir Paul singled out GWPF — as “pretending to talk about science” — and he whipped them mercilessly with ad hominem fallacies, generic infringements, petty insults, and argument by association.

He chanted the liturgical sacrament:

“‘Today we have those who mix science up with ideology and politics, where opinion, rhetoric and tradition hold more sway than adherence to evidence and logical argument.”

Lo, behold, it’s a form of confessional projection.  If Sir Paul “swayed some evidence” he wouldn’t need to preach adherence to his ideology with violent threats, baseless opinions, and logical errors.
Full diatribe:  The Daily Mail UK
Time to write letters to the British Science Association.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.4/10 (110 votes cast)

We are 99.99999% sure that broken models produce stupid climate statistics

Amazing what they can discover with data from just the last 130 years. Hey but it must be right. It’s bootstrapped!

Finally, the study you’ve been waiting for. Now we can be absolutely certain — it’s practically proven beyond all doubt –  your SUV changes the climate.

We just need to assume the climate models understand the climate and that there are no longer natural cycles at work AND that there are no effects from the sun from the solar wind, solar magnetic fields, or spectral changes. Easy. (Don’t look at the evidencethe pause or all the model failures.)

The new headline:

99.999% certainty humans are driving global warming: new study

It’s at The Conversation - -the government funded site where government funded scientists discuss their bestest ideas.

WARNING – Modern global temperatures (red) were homogenized with imaginary Vostok data for entertainment purposes only. See footnote*

Obviously being 95% certain is not enough. Desperate believers are upping the ante. I guess all those people who were not convinced by 95% certainty will now switch over, blown away by the last 4.999% certainty that was missing before. It’s the third decimal place that does it.

PS: There’s a vote going on at NineMSM. See the poll in the middle of the page Do you believe?


*The graph contains satirical-risk. The blue line is Vostok. The red line is Vodka, “the globe” with polar-exaggeration. Don’t compare them under any circumstances.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.2/10 (85 votes cast)

BOM homogenisation in Deniliquin creates discontinuities and changes trends

The list goes on, and there is more to come.

In Deniliquin NSW, the homogenisation has lifted both the maxima and minima trends — again converting cooling to warming.

Graham Lloyd continues to increase the pressure on the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. In answers to Lloyd the BOM could only defend their work with the extraordinary statement that while some trends at individual stations look anomalous, overall the results showed a similar warming trend to that of other inter­national climate ­organisations. ”

So they inadvertently admit that they expect Australian trends to look like trends in other parts of the world. Despite the fact that Australia is drier, flatter and surrounded on every edge by oceans, the Bureau would consider it a fail if our trends were different to others? We’re in the opposite hemisphere to many international climate organizations, which may or may not matter, but we’ll never find out if we are trying to fit our data to theirs. And El Nino’s and La Nina’s mean very different things to countries on opposite sides of the Pacific. We’re blurring the resolution from thousands of data-points. The raw data is blended not just on regional scales but thanks to mindsets, on international scales too. It’s Groupthink, or should we call that Climate Freud at work?

The Australian Sept 5th, 2014

Bureau of Meteorology ‘adding mistakes’ with data modelling

Both Maxima and Minima trends have changed after BOM homogenization.


SOME of Australia’s long-term temperature records may contain faults introduced by the Bureau of Meteorology’s computer modelling, according to a widely published expert.

David Stockwell said a full audit of the BoM national data set was needed after the bureau confirmed that statistical tests, rather than direct evidence, were the “primary” justification for making changes.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.4/10 (85 votes cast)

Up to 4 million die from indoor air pollution annually (they need cheap coal-fired electricity!)

People who have no cheap electricity burn wood or coal inside their homes to make dinner and stay warm. The smoke produces real pollution (as opposed to the fake kind which feeds plants). In India, some homes have pollution levels “three times higher than a typical London street”. Not surprisingly, living in smoke does not work out well for lungs and hearts. “Estimates suggest that household air pollution killed 3·5 to 4 million people in 2010. “

We can argue about the numbers and whether they are exaggerated, but there’s no doubt that millions of people would lead better lives if they had access to cheap electricity, which in practical terms means coal-fired power. In Niger, Africa, 17 million people use less electricity than Dubbo, NSW, a town of 40,000.

Where are the Greens? Children in poverty are suffering from lung damage now. The Greens priority is to spend billions to stop them dying in 2100 from seas rising at 1mm a year. How many people does expensive electricity kill? — Jo


Household air pollution puts more than one in three people worldwide at risk of ill health, early death

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.8/10 (57 votes cast)

The mysterious lost hot Sunday in Bourke, did it really happen?

 Was January 3rd 1909 in Bourke one of Australia’s hottest days ever?

The historic records say “125F” — or 51.7C.
The BOM say it was an observer error.

Bourke and neighboring stations in NSW and QLD Australia

Blair Trewin wrote a paper looking at the extreme highs in 1997. The Bourke record was made on a Sunday and in that particular year there are no records on other Sundays. On the other hand, I wonder what station observer would not notice a day that was 125F and head in to work to see exactly how high it was. The number 125F was handwritten in and underlined. You’d think observers would know it was a special figure, and pay attention.

The town of Bourke got a Stephenson Screen only a few months beforehand in August 1908, so it had good modern equipment. But Trewin thinks the record is an observer error, and points out that it was a lot warmer in Bourke than in other surrounding towns like Thargomindah, Walgett, and Coonable, and by about 6.9C degrees, which is an unusual gap. During the rest of the month Bourke was “not exceptionally hot compared to other stations”. Fair point. But Jen Marohasy responds that “newspaper reports show the nearest station, Brewarrina, had recorded 123F (50.6C) on the same day (January 3, 1909).“  Official Brewarrina records don’t start until 1911.

For scale. Bourke and neighbors.

I can understand why there is some debate about this record, but I don’t understand how it’s scientifically accurate to issue press releases declaring that we know Australian temperature trends, or understand how our extremes have changed. The statement “hotter than any time since 1910″ might be technically accurate in a way, but is very misleading when it relies on guesses about which high numbers were accidents, and avoids any mention at all of the hot weather before 1910.

It is great to see Graham Lloyd is fearless in following the data and arguments.

The Australian “Heat off Bourke after Bureau of Meteorology revision”

THE removal of a longstanding temperature record at Bourke of 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.7C) set in 1909 was the result of a critical 1997 paper that revised a string of records and brought Australia’s hottest recorded temperature into the second half of the 20th century.

Until the paper by Blair Trewin, who is now a leading climate scientist at the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia’s hottest recorded temperature was 53.1C at Cloncurry on January 16, 1889.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.9/10 (87 votes cast)

Explain this? Rutherglen homogenized with 17 stations including Hillston!

We’ve seen the remarkable change of the Rutherglen record as it got homogenized. This long running rural record that looks ideal apparently had “unrecorded” station moves found by thermometers miles away.  Already we have found Bill Johnston who did some work at Rutherglen who confirmed that the station did not move. The mystery grows?

Since early 2012 Ken Stewart has been asking the BOM which neighbouring stations were used.  Finally, after pressure from The Australian, the BOM has provided the 17 names, and Ken has graphed them.

Follow the chart below. Rutherglen temperatures start off in blue. The yellow line is the average of the 17 “neighbours” which are used to homogenize that blue line and transform it into the red one which somehow ends up being colder than its neighbours in 1952  and warmer than its neighbours in all the last 30 years.

See if you can figure it out?

Rutherglen starts off blue. Then the yellow line is used to homogenize that blue line into the red one.

Presumably the BOM technique would be a lot more complicated that what Ken has done, but clearly replicating that ACORN final trend is not going to be easy.

The 17 neighbouring places stretch from Beechworth in the foothills of the Victorian Alps, to Hillston on the flat plains of hot New South Wales. Hillston is about 370km by road  from the wine growing district of Rutherglen. It’s 300km direct according to this estimate. Hey but maybe their climate trends are more similar than they appear…

Hillston is the top left red dot on the map below.

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (106 votes cast)

Finally, a way to get energy from Wind Turbines. Burn them, make cement!

Blades being chopped for transport. | Global Cement Magazine

It’s the new alternative fuel — decommissioned turbines. There are 21,000 wind turbines in Germany alone at the moment. With 15,000 tons a year of old blades expected to be dumped by 2019, it’s a real problem to get rid of them. The EU says they can’t be dumped in landfill. Here’s the perfect solution. Chop them, shred them, then deliver the fibreglass reinforced plastic to the local cement plant. The resins hold 15MJ per kilo. “One tonne of resin saves 600 kg of coal at the cement plant!”

It’s a win-win all round. Residents get rid of the bird chopping towers, the cement plant gets energy, and the windmills may, possibly for the first time, save some CO2 for the Greens. What’s not to like?

Indeed this is recycling you can like. The raw materials in old blades can even be used in the cement too.

Wind Turbines make good alternative fuels for cement production.

Global Cement Magazine Sept 2014 page 10

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (86 votes cast)

Pitman says BOM don’t “fiddle” with data — it’s magical science by Elite Centres of Excellence

What is striking about Andy Pitman and Lisa Alexander’s response to the articles in The Australian, on The Conversation, is how intellectually weak it is, and how little content they have after we remove the logical fallacies. It’s argument from authority, circular reasoning, and strawmen. Hail the Gods (and don’t look over there)! They don’t question Jennifer Marohasy’s remarkable figures, they don’t even mention them at all, nor use the names “Rutherglen”, “Amberley” or “Bourke” –how revealing.

And these are the points at issue. Long cooling trends at supposedly excellent sites had been homogenized and transformed into warming trends. Rutherglen is the kind of station other stations dream to be: it has stayed in the same place according to the official documents, isn’t affected by the heat from urban growth either and is similar to its neighbors. Other stations might be adjusted to be more like it. Instead the BOM has a method that detected “unrecorded” site moves at Rutherglen by studying unnamed stations somewhere in the region. Awkwardly, someone who used to work there says the thermometer didn’t move. Hmm. Would a thinking person ask for more details and an explanation? Not if you are director of an ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science or a Chief Investigator of the same institution. This is apparently how Excellent Climate Centres work. The thermometers and trends for Rutherglen were wrong all along, off by nearly 2 degrees for 70 years. Luckily the experts finally arrived to fix them, but using thermometers that might have been hundreds of kilometers away?

It seems a bit magical. But Pitman and Alexander offer no scientific or physical reason why it makes sense for long cooling trends in raw data to be dramatically changed in stations which are supposed to be our best. Nor do they even try to explain the BOM’s lack of curiosity of decades of older data at Bourke either. Perhaps there are reasons years of historic data can’t be analyzed and combined to look at long term trends, but if there is, Pitman and Alexander don’t know it and apparently don’t care too much either.

Instead we hear that homogenization is used all over the world, but in lots of different forms, and sometimes not at all.

Data homogenisation techniques are used to varying degrees by many national weather agencies and climate researchers around the world. Although the World Meteorological Organization has guidelines for data homogenisation, the methods used vary from country to country, and in some cases no data homogenisation is applied.

Is this supposed to make us feel confident that the Australian BOM uses the “right” version, and no one should even ask questions about the details? Skeptical scientists (as opposed to Directors of Excellence) have been asking for these details of individual site adjustments for years. The BOM could have provided the answers and silenced the critics long ago. Instead skeptics were delighted when Graham Lloyd at The Australian finally managed to elicit three paragraphs of details on three sites. Pop the Champagne, eh?

To answer the critics Pitman draws on the elite gods of ClimateScienceTM to help him. Unlike other fields of science where one expert can explain things to another scientist, in BOM-science they use, wait for it, “complex methods” that apparently can’t be discussed. Besides Blair Trewin has written a “comprehensive” article. It must be good.   Likewise, annointed Climate Elves called Itsi’s are allowed to talk about which homogenisation method might be better than others, but scientists outside the fairy circle are not.

Perhaps it’s understandable that Pitman and Alexander didn’t bother explaining any of the details — they are writing for   The Conversation, after all. It’s not like it’s an educated high level audience…

Who is cherry picking?

The handy thing about climate parameters is there are plenty of trend-cherries to pick: there are maxima, mean, minima, and extremes, and they are grouped by region or state, or national memes. Hot days can be defined lots of ways: over 40C, 37C, 35C, or the 10th percentile above the monthly mean.

Luckily for Pitman and Alexandra, there was at least one example from these permutations and combinations that showed cooler trends after homogenization. That little category is “Trends in the frequency of hot days over Australia – unadjusted data using all temperature stations that have at least 40 years of record available for Australia from the GHCN-Daily data set.”

Skeptical scientists like Ken Stewart instead just looked at big basic parameters like the average minima across the country of 100 plus stations and found the adjustments warmed the trends by 50%.

This climate has a circular trend?

Circular Reasoning Prize for the day goes to this line, bolded:

If the Bureau didn’t do it (homogenisation), then we and our fellow climatologists wouldn’t use its data because it would be misleading. What we need are data from which spurious warming or cooling trends have been removed, so that we can see the actual trends.

What “actual” trends? Since the Models of Excellence are not-so-excellent at predicting the climate,  this translates to saying that broken models don’t work with unhomogenized data. (Could be a clue there, you think?)

Apparently the editors of The Conversation find argument from authority and circular reasoning appealing. (Forgive me, what well-trained academic wouldn’t?)*

The mismatch in the PR

There is another layer to this. Even if the adjustments can be physically justified with documents, the grand uncertainty in Australian datasets is never conveyed in BOM press releases which announce records that may rely on adjustments of up to 2 degrees to temperatures recorded 70 years ago. Even if the adjustments are justified, isn’t it important for the public to know how complicated it is and how fickle most of these records are when they may disappear with the next incarnation of “high quality” data?

Strawmen to mislead?

Andy Pitman is keen to suggest skeptical scientists make false accusations:

The Bureau has provided the details of how it is done, despite facing accusations that it has not been open enough.

But skeptics accuse the BOM of not documenting individual site specific explanations. In return, Andy Pitman keeps that trend going by responding to questions about Amberley, Rutherglen and Bourke without mentioning, er… Amberley, Rutherglen or Bourke.

Peer review makes scientific arguments “Valid”?

It doesn’t matter if skeptics are logical and have empirical evidence, what matters to Andy Pitman and Lisa Alexander is whether those ideas have been passed by two anonymous unpaid reviewers.

Valid critiques of data homogenisation techniques are most welcome. But as in all areas of science, from medicine to astronomy, there is only one place that criticisms can legitimately be made.  Anyone who thinks they have found fault with the Bureau’s methods should document them thoroughly and reproducibly in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. This allows others to test, evaluate, find errors or produce new methods. This process has been the basis of all scientific advances in the past couple of centuries and has led to profoundly important advances in knowledge.

All scientific advances in the last two centuries? Tell that to Newton, Einstein, Watson and Crick. They were not peer reviewed. On the other hand these 120 scientific advances were peer reviewed, that is until someone realized they were computer generated gibberish, and un-published them.

Is that more the type of Excellence our ARC strives for?


*Apologies to the exceptions who survive in academia.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.6/10 (122 votes cast)

Scientists-of-PR jump the shark, assign “climate blame” percentage for each event

Here’s the new desperate meme about to turn your weather report into an advertisement for carbon trading. The people are not scared enough. Say hello to scientismic marketing.  It sure isn’t science.

The generators of Climate Fear start with broken models that we know don’t predict global temperatures, upper tropospheric humidity, Antarctic sea ice, and ocean heat (or much of anything else). They then use these to model the chances of individual storms, or floods — something they were not designed to do. Then they run these mistakes 5 million times with and without the magic CO2 forcing. They might as well stand back, look solemn, and pick a percentage or throw a dart.  The great thing is, only God knows the right answer. The models can’t “miss”.

Was that flood 35% due to man-made emissions? Was that tornado 50% more deadly? (Did it rain on your wedding day? Sue someone!)

Of course, New Scientist swallows the theme whole, tea-leaves and all. No hard questions asked.

A new technique connecting individual weather events with the impact of greenhouse gas emissions could bring climate change into everyday weather reports

“Well, the record-breakingly hot summer is showing no sign of cooling down. No thanks to us: the heatwave was made 35 per cent more likely by human greenhouse gas emissions.”

 The method — all based on the assumptions that models have “skill”:

To explore whether climate change was making such precipitation more likely, Schaller and her team ran a similar experiment to Stott and Allen’s. They used real-world data to simulate the season that had just passed, then stripped the data of the influence of greenhouse gas emissions and ran the simulation again. The scenario was simulated thousands of times in order to calculate the odds of getting a bout of extremely wet weather at that particular time of year.

We all know numbers and percentages make wild baseless guesses look real, so this is a good way to generate authoritative sounding press releases:

They concluded that what was a 1-in-100-year event without global warming had become a 1-in-80-year event. In other words, human emissions made the extreme levels of rainfall experienced in south-east England 25 per cent more likely.

The team’s results were published online on 30 April, just two months after the flooding abated.

If an extreme weather event occurs, researchers can look to see if the models predicted it. If it was predicted in the real-world seasonal forecast but not in the scenario which is stripped of emissions, then it was made more likely by climate change – a likelihood that can be calculated.

The big “news” here is that this new method is so much better because it’s faster. It’s not about accuracy (and never was). The real issue is the speed of propaganda:

… several studies have used similar methods (see “Blame warming?“), but they all have dealt with events long after they have left the public consciousness.

It’s a bummer when issues leave the public consciousness. The poor stupid public can’t remember floods and cyclones for more than a week. What we need is real-time climate-blame, apparently:

In the new set-up, a real-world seasonal forecast driven by data on current sea-surface temperatures will be run alongside a simulated “no global warming” seasonal forecast, in which greenhouse gas emissions have been stripped out.

Then like shooting fish in a barrel, “scientists” can look back-with-hindsight at scores of broken models to see which ones accidentally got that particular extreme event right. Monkeys and models, eh?

If an extreme weather event occurs, researchers can look to see if the models predicted it. If it was predicted in the real-world seasonal forecast but not in the scenario which is stripped of emissions, then it was made more likely by climate change – a likelihood that can be calculated.

It won’t matter to a scientismic marketer whether the “right” model is a different model each time. They won’t be issuing 39 press releases when 39 models get it wrong. They’ll just cherry pick the lucky one and we can all goo-and-ahh at how clever they are.

It is, naturally, about money and power. What UN bureaucrat could turn down the excuse to be the conduit for billions of dollars they never had to earn?

International climate talks could be affected too. At recent United Nations meetings, it has been broadly agreed that money needs to be channelled from rich nations, which are historically responsible for the bulk of emissions, to poorer nations, which tend to suffer most from the impacts of those emissions. One way to do that would be to assign compensation after a nation suffers losses due to climate change. But in order for that to work, there needs to be a way to show that an island hit by a typhoon, say, would probably have been spared if global warming hadn’t been a factor. Weather-attribution studies could provide that information.

The real issue “ultimately” is about the western paying public who simply don’t give climate fearmongers enough respect or money.

Ultimately, though, the key contribution of this work may be to get through to a general public for whom climate change has long been an abstract concept. By showing that what’s going on outside someone’s window is directly linked to climate change, researchers hope it will become obvious that what they are saying isn’t just a load of hot air.

How “abstract” is climate change? Lucky we have science magazines to make storms, floods and rain real for dumb voters who don’t understand these things going on outside the window.

The problem for Catherine Brahic is that the dumb voters do understand, they realize the climate always changes, they realize the modelers have failed, they know ice ages and hotter times have come and gone without any man-made CO2. They remember the prediction that children won’t know what snow is.

Non Scientist, long ago threw away scientific rules of logic and reason and the need for empirical evidence. Shame. It used to be an excellent magazine. Vale Nigel Calder.

I want the word scientist back. This faith in models is no better than rune stones.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (102 votes cast)

Hiding something? BOM throws out Bourke’s hot historic data, changes long cooling trend to warming

Hello Soviet style weather service? On January 3, 1909, an extremely hot 51.7C (125F) was recorded at Bourke.  It’s possibly the hottest ever temperature recorded in a Stevenson Screen in Australia, but the BOM has removed it as a clerical error. There are legitimate questions about the accuracy of records done so long ago — standards were different. But there are very legitimate questions about the BOMs treatment of this historic data. ‘The BOM has also removed the 40 years of weather recorded before 1910, which includes some very hot times. Now we find out the handwritten original notes  from 62 years of the mid 20th Century were supposed to be dumped in 1996 as well. Luckily, these historic documents were saved from the dustbin and quietly kept in private hands instead.

Bourke has one of the longest datasets in Australia — but the BOM, supposedly so concerned about the long term climate trends, appears to have little curiosity in the hot weather of the 1880′s and 1890′s (I talked about the amazing heatwave of 1896 here where hundreds died and people in Bourke escaped on special trains). If it had been a cool spell then, would the BOM feel more inclined to put some effort into analyzing them? All of the 50+ temperatures recorded do have a story to tell, yet they lie invisible in news reports of the 21st Century.

Perhaps most seriously, the regular BOM press releases of hottest ever records now rarely give any indication that these earlier hot records existed at all.

Ian Cole lives in Bourke, and runs the local radio station. For years, his father Neville used to do the meticulous recordings every three hours. Ian Cole feels very frustrated that he can’t broadcast any of that information to listeners in weather reports — the BOM won’t supply any data before the year 2000 to the official Weatherzone service provider. He remarked that “We keep on being told about records that are not actually records and averages that are not quite right”.

Bourke got new automated weather recorders in 1994, with a two year overlap of manual and new equipment.

Bourke raw Maxima trend:  was 1.7C cooling, now increased to a slight warming trend

Bourke raw Minima trend: was 0.53C warming, now increased to 1.64C warming trend

–These trends, calculated by Jennifer Marohasy have not been disputed by the BOM

Graham Lloyd at The Australian continues to ask the questions the BOM should have been asked for the last ten years.

The modern “trends” do not convey the temperatures that were actually recorded at Bourke.

Where is the respect for historic records?

Weatherman’s records detail heat that ’didn’t happen’

AS a child, Ian Cole would watch his father Neville take meticulous readings from the Bureau of Meteorology thermometer at the old post office in the western NSW town of Bourke and send the results through by teleprinter.

The temperature was recorded every three hours, including at night when the mercury sometimes plunged to freezing, and the data was logged in handwritten journals that included special notes to help explain the results.

For Mr Cole it is a simple matter of trusting the care and attention of his father. “Why should you change manually created records?” Mr Cole said. “At the moment they (BOM) are saying we have a warming climate but if the old figures are used we have a cooling climate.”

 Thank goodness someone saved the original notes:

Keep reading  →

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (116 votes cast)