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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Pope’s popularity fall 17% — preaching the climate change religion not so popular?

Pope Francis put out his pro-climate encyclical eight weeks ago, getting mass media attention, but the latest Gallop poll shows the people were not so enthused:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pope Francis’ favorability rating in the U.S. has returned to where it was when he was elected pope. It is now at 59%, down from 76% in early 2014. The pontiff’s rating is similar to the 58% he received from Americans in April 2013, soon after he was elected pope.

Is this about “climate change” — the encyclical has 245 paragraphs, 16 mentions of “climate”, 7 mentions of “carbon”, and more than 100 mentions of the “environment”. Moreso it reported around the globe as a “coup” on the climate issue by groups who normally think the Pope is wrong, silly and anachronistic. Furthermore,  the biggest change has come among Catholics, Protestants, and especially conservatives. But he’s less popular among liberals too.

The drop in the pope’s favorable rating is driven by a decline among Catholics and political conservatives, two groups that have been ardent supporters of the modern papacy. Seventy-one percent of Catholics say they have a favorable image of Francis, down from 89% last year.

Favorable Ratings of Pope Francis, 2014 vs. 2015

h/t to Heartland who deserve some credit here, having sent a team to the Vatican to draw attention to this issue.

The poll was a random survey of 1,009 people in the US. The margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The question: “Please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Pope Francis — or if you have never heard of him”.

Did everyone miss the papal decree against Carbon trading?

During the orgy of papal-enthusiasm I noted that few people mentioned that the Pope was against carbon trading. Not the preferred prophesy?

190. Here too, it should always be kept in mind that “environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces”.[134] Once more, we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals. Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention. Moreover, biodiversity is considered at most a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation, with no serious thought for the real value of things, their significance for persons and cultures, or the concerns and needs of the poor.

The Pope was not able to explain why “market forces” were not the answer. He didn’t mention that sometimes free market forces work just fine with environmental problems, but they don’t when it’s a ubiquitous molecule central to life on Earth. In this case a free market is an impossible fantasy because most players can’t play — they are dogs, cats, yeast or the Pacific Ocean. Also it isn’t a real free market, because no one is “free” not to buy and governments control both supply and demand.


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Labor wants to waste $100b to make Australian energy 50% renewable, more expensive, by 2030

The Coalition in Australia must be thrilled that Bill Shorten wants to make the next election about “climate change”. What a gift from Labor.

Just before the last election Labor had a plan to spend $60,000 dollars per person to try to change the weather by 2050. Labor lost nearly a quarter of their seats. Bill Shorten’s new election vision is to repeat the same mistakes. Like the G7 leaders, he wants symbolic and unachievable promises — only, unlike them, he’s making pie-in-the-sky, uncosted plans for 2030, not 2100. Five of the seven G7 nations are increasing their coal use. Get with the game Bill, other countries are winding schemes back and putting off the promises til long after most people alive today will be gone.

Shorten is pushing a dead dog. The sweet end of the wind and solar power deals have already been done and the numbers get uglier from here. As more and more of the grid is taken over by a massive erratic and unreliable supply, the marginal returns shrink, prices go up. The carbon “savings” falls. Full baseload back up must be maintained regardless, whirring away inefficiently on standby. The Labor Party are making a big miscalculation electorally, fooled by inept surveys that show everyone “likes” the environment and “worries” about climate change. Better studies show almost no votes hinge on this topic, nobody wants to spend much, and pandering to the green religion will hurt things people do care about — electricity prices, manufacturing and employment. US voters rank “climate change” last in environmental polls, and they rank the environment below nearly every thing else. In the UK, polls show 62% don’t believe in a man-made climate disaster. There’s  a long list of environmental climate polls showing skeptics are everywhere, and many believers are bored and unmotivated. In the US Tom Steyer threw $74 m at the election on climate change and lost nearly every seat he tried to influence. Fully 92% of Swiss Voters said “No” to a carbon tax.

Just what the country needs?

Green “renewables” schemes push up the price of electricity, make the world 0.0C degrees cooler, and increase unemployment. Every green job created means a loss of 2 – 5 other jobs.

Bill Shorten to unveil 50% renewable energy target at Labor conference -- Sydney Morning Herald

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is set to unveil a bold climate policy goal requiring half of Australia’s large-scale energy production to be generated using renewable sources within 15 years.

Fairfax Media has learnt that despite Labor’s humiliating 2013 election defeat caused in part by voter contempt for its carbon tax, Mr Shorten will use this weekend’s ALP national conference in Melbourne to announce the even more ambitious goal, dramatically beefing up Labor’s renewable energy target.

The policy shift is designed to recover green support, sharpen the contrast with Prime Minister Tony Abbott over climate change and make global warming the defining battleground of the next federal election

As Andrew Bolt points out, it’s “not costed, not modelled, and not effective”.

Only in Labor economics can we add more expensive suppliers and pretend the prices won’t rise dramatically. It’s “free energy from the sun” after all. It’s like the Labor Party believe the bumper stickers.

Graph, cost of electricity from coal, gas, solar and wind power, renewable energy, Australia, 2015

Comparison of costs of electricity generation.  | Energy Supply Association of Australia

How much global cooling does $100 billion buy?

Australians emit 1.16% of human emissions, which total just 4% of natural ones. Co2 doesn’t appear to have warmed the world in the last 18 years despite rapid rises in human emissions — one third of all human emissions ever since 1998, and no warming.  The Australian impact is 0.00064 of nothing.

We need another 10,000 wind turbines?

Adam Creighton, The Australian, on energy prices, and the cost of the Labor 50% renewables plan:

ACIL chief executive Paul Hyslop said: “If this were met by wind power it would require 10,000 to 11,000 additional turbines … with capital costs for the turbines alone of $65 billion.”

He suggested such a move would undermine productivity.

ACIL said the total capital cost would be in the order of $100bn — about three times the cost of the National Broadband Network.

“Basically, we’d be spending another $65bn on turbines to effectively get no more output,” Mr Hyslop said.

Australia will need about 300,000 GWh total in 2030 according to ACIL — We’d need another 92,000 GWh of “renewables”:

The ­Coalition and Labor agreed in May to trim the RET from 41,000 GWh a year by 2020 to 33,000 GWh, to allow for the fall in electricity demand that was projected to lift the share gener­ated from renewables to 26 per cent by 2020, rather than the 20 per cent envisaged. The new RET is forecast to provide 23.5 per cent.

ACIL estimates a total power demand of 300,000 GWh in 2030, of which half would come from renewable sources under the Labor plan. The firm believes 25,000 GWh would come from rooftop solar systems, with another­ 16,000 GWh from existing hydro-electric plants, leaving 110,000 GWh to be provided by large-scale renewable projects — or 92,000GWh more than existing capacity.

In terms of carbon emissions, wind turbines are almost the last choice on Earth. They cost $50 – $100 per ton of carbon, seven times more than the Coalition’s Direct Action plan. No one who cares about the environment would want to waste money doing something so inefficient when they could spend the same money and achieve a lot more.

Australian electricity prices are rising much faster than inflation.

The big leap in electricity prices in the graph in 2012/13 below is due to the carbon tax, but some of the rise before that is due in part to other policies to “green” our electricity.

Australian Electricity retail prices, ABS

Electricity prices in Australia. The Carbon Tax was introduced July 2012.

Source: Parliamentary Library

 The electricity price is rising much faster than inflation. The Rudd Labor government was elected in November 2007.

Graph, CPI, inflation, ABS, Electricity prices, Australia

Modeling shows the RET scheme cost up to $28 billion and lost 5,000 jobs. The current scheme is 23% RET (Renewable Energy Target). Labor want to make that 50%.

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UK youth unconvinced about climate change — peak believers 30-50 years old

I’ve discussed the big ComRes/ITV survey before, which  showed that 62% of UK citizens are skeptics and are not convinced that humans are changing the weather. This is the same interesting survey which also showed that the highest proportion of skeptics were in the educated upper middle class, and the lowest was in the unskilled workers and pensioners. I didn’t explain then that this survey also split the groups according to age. So here (finally) are those graphs. Fittingly the young are undecided and the wise are more skeptical. But surprisingly there is a peak believer age, and that’s around 35 – 44. Either this generation has been assailed with more propaganda than any other, or something else is going on.

Is this the beginnings of the youthful revolution? Only 20% 34% of 18 – 24 year olds would be called believers?

They quizzed 2047 people from across the UK early last year and I’ve graphed the results according to age, and the “peak believer” band is clearly visible. In all three questions I colored believers red, and skeptics blue. The undecided are grey.

People generally switch from the “don’t know” category when they are young into the skeptic camp as they get older. Some may go via the “believer” group in their 20s and 30s.

The first graph shows results from an unusually specific and accurate question.

An unusually specific and accurate question.

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Solar activity was really at exceptional lows during the cold Maunder Minimum

Historic drawing, sunspots, 1671, maunder minimum, solar activity, Usoskin 2015

Fig 3 (Part VI only) Sunspot drawing of by G.D. Cassini in 1671 (Oldenburg, 1671c).

What is surprising is just how much data we have on the Sun from 400 years ago.

For some aspects of solar activity we barely have a half a solar cycle. For example, on solar spectral changes: UV and Infrared light swing up and down through the solar cycle, but we only got a good grip on these important changes in the last ten years with the SORCE mission.

But on other aspects of solar activity there is much more long term data than I expected: 400 years ago quite a few people were carefully recording detailed drawings of sun spots (like Cassini in 1671, right). Others were reporting aurorae — up to 150 a year in parish records, newspaper reports, and scientific observations, which tells us something about the strength of the solar wind. There were also observations of the solar corona during eclipses at the time, which suggest the sun was less active as well.

Lately some (Zolotova et al)  have said solar activity was not low during the cold Maunder Minimum period from 1645 – 1715. Usoskin and others have responded by amassing a compedium of  historic data demonstrating that something very unusual was going on with the sun during that time. They not only look at sun spots, but aurorae, solar corona observations, Beryllium in ice cores, Carbon 14 in tree trunks, and titanium in meteorites.

We know aurorae were rarer or smaller during the Maunder minimum because for 80 years there were virtually no reports of auroras in Great Britain, though keen observers were looking for them, and recording “clear skies” day after day.

There were reports of aurorae from the late 1500′s in the UK, Denmark, and Prague, but then early in the 1600′s activity fell away. The silence was loud. At the end of the Maunder period, across northern Europe on  “Tuesday 17th March 1716″ people all over Northern Europe reported aurorae, including Edmund Halley in Great Britain, who had never seen one before, yet had read about them, and looked for them. He’d begun to despair he might never see one. One Petter Dass in Norway did miss out, he diligently recorded the night sky from 1645 to 1707 when he died, and though he had read many historic reports of aurorae, he never recorded seeing one himself. His bad luck, to be an astronomer and his whole adult life spent during the quietest period for centuries.

The Usoskin paper is an interesting read for people interested in the history of early science as well as for the history of solar activity.

Total sunlight levels suggest the Sun was very quiet 300 years ago

The world has warmed since 1680, as best as we can tell, and solar activity has increased since then too. This graph of TSI (total solar irradiance) shows that rise — though the absolute change is tiny. TSI changes are small but appear to be another indicator of solar activity.

Graph, solar total irradiance, TSI, maunder minimum, solar activity, Usoskin 2015

Fig. 17. Selected TSI reconstructions since 1600, labeled in the plot are: Sea09 –Steinhilber et al. (2009); DB11 – Delaygue & Bard (2011); Wea05 – Wang et al. (2005); Kea10 – Krivova et al. (2010); Dea14 – Dasi-Espuig et al. (2014); Vea11 – Vieira et al. (2011). The green, blue and red colour tones are used for the reconstructions based on the 10Be, sunspot and 14C data, respectively. The black dotted line marks the TSI value at modern solar activity minimum conditions according to SORCE/TIM measurements.

As we keep suggesting, some other factor on the Sun, like the solar-magnetic, spectral changes or solar wind may be responsible for changing the climate on Earth. Correlation is not causation, but neither is it nothing. Yet, the mainstream Climate Models assume all the other solar factors are irrelevant.

That’s record low activity

The Zolotova and Ponyavin paper suggested that solar activity was much higher (red dashes) compared to other reports.

Graph, sunspot numbers, maunder minimum, solar activity, Usoskin 2015

Fig. 1. Annual group sunspot numbers during and around the Maunder minimum, according to Hoyt & Schatten (1998) – GSN, Zolotova & Ponyavin (2015) – ZP15, and loose and strictly conservative models from Vaquero et al. (2015a) (see Sect. 2.1), as denoted in the legend.



Aims. Although the time of the Maunder minimum (1645–1715) is widely known as a period of extremely low solar activity, claims are still debated that solar activity during that period might still have been moderate, even higher than the current solar cycle # 24. We have revisited all the existing pieces of evidence and datasets, both direct and indirect, to assess the level of solar activity during the Maunder minimum. Methods. We discuss the East Asian naked-eye sunspot observations, the telescopic solar observations, the fraction of sunspot active days, the latitudinal extent of sunspot positions, auroral sightings at high latitudes, cosmogenic radionuclide data as well as solar eclipse observations for that period. We also consider peculiar features of the Sun (very strong hemispheric asymmetry of sunspot location, unusual differential rotation and the lack of the K-corona) that imply a special mode of solar activity during the Maunder minimum. Results. The level of solar activity during the Maunder minimum is reassessed on the basis of all available data sets. Conclusions. We conclude that solar activity was indeed at an exceptionally low level during the Maunder minimum. Although the exact level is still unclear, it was definitely below that during the Dalton minimum around 1800 and significantly below that of the current solar cycle # 24. Claims of a moderate-to-high level of solar activity during the Maunder minimum are rejected at a high confidence level.

Look at the detail of this drawing by Cassini, 1671

Historic drawing of sunspots, 1671, maunder minimum, solar activity, Usoskin 2015

Fig. 2. Drawing of a sunspot group observed in August 1671, as published in number 75 of the Philosophical Transactions, corresponding to August 14, 1671.

The amount of aurorae data is remarkable

Graph, Aurora, maunder minimum, solar activity, Usoskin 2015

Fig. 11. Occurrence of auroral reports, 1700-1900. The green line is the number of auroral nights at geomagnetic latitudes below 56◦ from a combination of several catalogues (Nevanlinna, 1995; Fritz, 1873, 1881; Legrand & Simon, 1987). The points show the geomagnetic latitude and time of auroral sightings from the catalogue of V´azquez et al. (2014) (their Figure 9). Black diamonds, red squares and red triangles are, respectively,
for observing sites in Europe and North Africa, North America, and Asia. Blue dashed lines mark the minimum latitude of auroral reports in the last solar cycle of the Maunder minimum (MM) and in the two cycles of the Dalton Minimum (DM).

There is a stark dearth of aurorae recorded during the Maunder Minimum:

Graph, Aurora, maunder minimum, solar activity, Usoskin 2015

Fig. 12. Same as Figure 10 (see caption below graph box), but compiled from 41 different catalogues of auroral observations at magnetic latitudes below 55◦ in Europe, Asia, North Africa, New England and Great Britain. The time series covers both the Maunder and the Dalton minima.

[Fig. 10. (a) The grey histogram shows the number of auroral nights, NA, in calendar years for observations in Great Britain collated by E.J. Lowe (1870) with the addition of the observations by Thomas Hughes (Harrison, 2005) and John Dalton (Dalton, 1834). The black line shows the annual group sunspot number of Hoyt & Schatten (1998), with the adoption of recent corrections by Vaquero et al. (2011) and Vaquero & Trigo (2014). Lowes personal copy of his catalogue of natural phenomena (including auroras) was only recently discovered and was compiled completely independently of other catalogues. Yet it shows, like the others, the dearth of sightings during the Maunder minimum, some events in 1707 and 1708 and the return of regular sightings in 1716. (b) Annual variation of NA in the same dataset and of RG.]

Usoskin et al describe the extraordinary sighting of the first aurorae for decades

What is significant about this event is that very few people in the country had seen an aurora before (Fara, 1996). Indeed, Halley’s paper was commissioned by the Royal Society for this very reason. This event was so rare it provoked a similar review under the auspices of l’Acad´emie des Sciences of Paris (by Giacomo Filippo Maraldi, also known as Jacques Philippe Maraldi) and generated interest at the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin (by GottfriedWilhelmLeibnitz).All these reviews found evidence of prior aurorae, but none in the previous half century. Halley himself had observed the 1716 event (and correctly noted that the auroral forms were aligned by themagnetic field) but had never before witnessed the phenomenon. It is worth examining his actual words: “…[of] all the several sorts of meteors  of, this [aurora] was the only one I had not as yet seen, and of which I began to despair, since it is certain it hath not happen’d to any remarkable degree in this part of England since I was born [1656]; nor is the like recorded in the English Annals since the Year of our Lord 1574.” This is significant because Halley was an observer of astronomical and atmospheric phenomena who even had an observatory constructed in the roof of his house in New College Lane, Oxford where he lived from 1703 onwards. In his paper to the Royal Society, Halley lists reports
of the phenomenon, both from the UK and abroad, in the years 1560, 1564, 1575, 1580, 1581 (many of which were reported by Brahe in Denmark), 1607 (reported in detail by Kepler in Prague) and 1621 (reported by Galileo in Venice and Gassendi in Aix, France). Strikingly, thereafter Halley found no credible reports until 1707 (Rømer in Copenhagen and Maria and Gottfried Kirch in Berlin) and 1708 (Neve in Ireland).He states “And since then [1621] for above 80 years, we have no account of any such sight either from home or abroad”. This analysis did omit some isolated sightings in 1661 from London (reported in the Leipzig University theses by Starck and Fr¨uauff). In addition to being the major finding of the reviews by Halley, Miraldi and others (in England, France and Germany), a similar re-appearance of aurorae was reported in 1716-1720 in Italy and in New England (Siscoe, 1980).


The absence of auroral sightings in Great Britain during the MM is even more extraordinary when one considers the effects  of the secular change in the geomagnetic field. For example, using a spline of the IGRF (InternationalGeomagnetic Reference Field, vmod/igrf.html) model after 1900 with the gufm1 model (Jackson et al., 2000) before 1900 we find the geomagnetic latitude of Halley’s observatory in Oxford was 60.7◦ in 1703 and Edinburgh was at 63.4◦. Auroral occurrence statistics were taken in Great Britain between 1952 and 1975, and of these years the lowest annual mean sunspot number was 4.4 in 1954. Even during this low solar activity year there were 169 auroral nights observed at the magnetic latitude that Edinburgh had during the MM and 139 at the magnetic latitude that Oxford had during the MM (Paton, 1959). In other words, The British Isles were at the ideal latitudes for observing aurora during the MM and yet the  number reported was zero. This is despite some careful and methodical observations revealed by the notebooks of several scientists: for example, Halley’s notebooks regularly and repeatedly use the term “clear skies” which make it inconceivable that he would not have noted an aurora had it  been present. Halley’s failure to find auroral sightings in the decades before 1716 is far from unique.



Usoskin et al (2015)  The Maunder minimum (1645–1715) was indeed a Grand minimum: A reassessment of multiple datasets, arXiv:1507.05191 [astro-ph.SR]

h/t Willie.

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Humans live from -50C to +40C, but two more degrees will kill us. Panic now.

Humans can adapt to live in locations where the monthly average is over 40°C, and as low as -50°C. That’s a 90°C range. The world has warmed by 0.9°C in 100 years (or less, depending on adjustments). This warming was so dangerous that global population only expanded from 1.7 to 7 billion.

Now, if the IPCC are right, we might heat up by another half a degree by 2100 — shifting those extremes from -49°C up to 41°C.

Prof. Andy Pitman, one of Australia’s leading climate scientists, responds to this risk with all the usual careful analysis we’ve come to expect from mainstream climate experts. Here’s another “children won’t know what snow is” type of Global Panic quote:

“I expect by 2050 … people just don’t go outside,”

– Professor Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at UNSW.

So that’s the end of golf, surfing, and picnics then. Somewhat confusingly, he also said (in the same interview) that we won’t necessarily notice that extra warmth: “… because humans acclimatise to heat quite quickly”. This is what 95% certainty looks like in 2015, ladies and gentlemen — abject panic and nothing to see here, both at the same time… journalist Lucy Cormack swallows it all, trained by the Sydney Morning Herald to ignore wild claims and bizarre contradictions.

The hottest inhabited places on Earth

There is a lot of competition for the “hottest” town on Earth.

Marble Bar, Western Australia

Marble Bar, Western Australia

Dallol, Ethiopia has an average July monthly high of 45.6°C (114F), so it is usually top of the “hottest inhabited location lists”. But  is practically a ghost town so it doesn’t quite count, though miners lived there from 1960-1966 and the 45°C record heat was recorded during these years. The annual average year-long maximum temperature is 41 °C (105 °F). Summer nights in Dallol get down to 32°C (90F).
Marble Bar, West Australia, has an average of 41°C in January for the last 100 years. It holds a world record for having 160 days above 100F from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924. About 200 people live there. (See more Marble Bar photos.)
In Kebili, Tunisia, the average July max is 41.7°C and sixty thousand people still live there, so I think it gets the medal for “hottest inhabited town”. Curiously in this warming world, Wikimedia notes that the hottest temperatures (all 50°+C) were recorded from 1888 – 1930, and not since. Presumably those old thermometers needed adjustment.

Humans, apparently, have lived in area’s around Kebili for at least 2,000 years, and maybe, possibly, 200,000 years. (I expect they are probably used to it by now.)

The coldest inhabited places

Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth, Oymyakon

Oymykon, Russia

Five hundred people live in Oymyakon, Siberia, Russia, almost in the Arctic circle at 63N.  The average temperature for January is -50°C. The village is called the coldest permanently inhabited settlement in the world, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone arguing about it. (Though technically, the research station at Vostok, Antarctica has a monthly average of – 68°C, and about a dozen people manage to live there.)  In winter in Oymakon, there are only three hours of sun a day, and people have to heat their garages, or run their cars 24/7 to keep them usable.

The coldest ever temperature recorded in Oymyakon was -71.2°C. Read more at Dailymail, and Wired.

The photo (and more glorious ones) was by Amos Chapple.

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Weekend Unthreaded

[Tick tick, only 150 comments to go to 300,000...]

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Who will be the next IPCC chairman?

The last time an IPCC chair position was up for grabs was in 2001, when things were not so politicized and aggressive, and there was not so much money and power on the table. Lobbying for this role is running hot and Tony Thomas compares the five men who are standing for this role. The position will be decided by October 8, and the new chairman will presumably be influential, or at least very visible, in Paris at the UNFCCC in early December. In the elections, there is one vote per country, so it is not so much about scientific credibility (and never was, think of Pachauri) but more about the powerful voting blocks that may form with small developing nations. Given that the new chairman will be in the media frequently and soon, this post is about being prepared. No  matter who wins, I think the IPCC is unsaveable and needs to be shut down or deprived of funding as soon as possible.   — Jo

Guest Post by Tony Thomas

Five candidates have put up their hand to become chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from October 8.

They are Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (Belgium), Hoesung Lee (Korea), Thomas Stocker (Switzerland), Chris Field (USA) and Nebojsa Nakicenovic (Austria).

The elections will be at the meeting of the IPCC in Dubrovnic, Croatia, from October 5-8. Further nominations are unlikely but it is possible that ‘wild card’ candidates could be nominated at the meeting itself, with a vote 24 hours later.

Each of the 195 nation-state members of the IPCC have an equal vote by secret ballot. The vote of Vanuatu (pop 250,000) carries the same clout as the USA’s. This means candidates, and their national backers, will be courting the myriad small states for votes, using hard and soft diplomacy as occurred in 2001.

A win requires a simple majority. If no majority occurs on the first voting round, the top two candidates are put to a run-off vote.

The chair has been vacant since February when Dr Rajenda Pachauri, 75, resigned abruptly after a 29-year-old female analyst at his TERI thinktank in Delhi filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. Pachauri has since been on bail after Delhi police charged him with  molestation, stalking, sexual harassment  and criminal intimidation. The IPCC then appointed  Vice-Chair Ismail Elgizouli (Sudan) as acting chair until October 8.

The IPCC chair position and other top roles carry no salary but give  global prominence and status. Leaders’ home governments or institutions pick up the tab.

Van Ypersele and Hoesung Lee are two of the three current vice-chairs (Elgizouli is the third). Stocker is co-chair of Working Group 1 (the science); and Field is co-chair of Working Group 2 (Impacts and Adaptation). If the IPCC operated logically, the showdown would be a contest between the Swiss-backed and US-backed candidates, whose science credentials are overwhelming.

The Candidates

Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Austria, Prof of Energy Economics

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Lost knowledge — 10th Century cure for MRSA “Superbug”

If the “leech” doctors circa 1000AD were able to treat superbugs that modern doctors struggle with, I wonder what other knowledge has come and gone and had to be rediscovered?

How many lives have been lost because information was not there when they needed it?

ancient, medieval antibiotics.

Image: © The British Library Board (Royal 12 D xvii)

Judith Curry posted a link this week to a story about a medieval recipe for an “eyesalve” that rather surprised researchers when it worked against the ghastly MRSA superbug, which is resistant to almost all modern antibiotics.

The book is one of the earliest known medical texts, called Bald’s Leechbook. The recipe called for garlic, onion, wine, and bile from a cow. It was very specific — the mix had to be brewed in brass and then left for nine days. The researchers at the University of Nottingham followed it closely, then it was tested in the lab. Will it work on people, and what are the side-effects?

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The UK National Trust wants to stop floods with leeks and lightbulbs

Tony Thomas visited the UK and found old fading National Trust signs using scary photos of flood damage and warning people to “eat local” and change their light globes to stop more floods. He followed that thought to a 2005 web plea from the National Trust, to find them claiming floods are accelerating but using 20 year old photos to scare people with.

Years from now people will study climate propaganda and marvel at how stupid it was.  — Jo

Guest Post by Tony Thomas

My wife Marg and I, two Antipodean yokels, wound up at the National Trust’s Bodiam Castle in Kent last month, awed at its 650-year history. After all, our colony’s iconic historical moment was in 1854, when someone broke a hotel lamp in Ballarat, Victoria and precipitated a scuffle between goldminers and police. The ringleader, instead of being quartered like Mel Gibson  — sorry, William Wallace — acquired a seat in Parliament next year and eventually died in bed. That’s all you need to know about Australian history, unless you’re into sheep.

Marg and I had lunch and wandered out the back of the Bodiam cafe towards the Rother River. “Hey, come and look at these signs!” she called. I ambled over to the bank that descends steeply to the river.

The first sign said, “The Rother – Where you are standing now will almost certainly be under water in 50 years’ time as a result of climate change. A foretaste of this was given in November 2000 when the river burst its banks and flooded the area.” Below this, the sign had a photo of, sure enough, the water level raised two or three metres to where I was standing. And photos don’t lie.

National Trust UK, Sign, Rother, Floods and Climate Change


The next sign read:

“We all have a part to play in tackling climate change and by acting together we can make a big difference. The National Trust is helping by looking at its use of energy, water and waste. You can help too by:

  • Buying and eating local food
  • Insulating your home
  • Changing your light bulbs to low energy
  • Using public transport, or cycling.

For more information, look at the National Trust website.”

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Why are Wind Farms called “Farms”? It’s not like anything grows there.

Wind Farm, Wind Park, Wind Sheep, Wind Cows, & Wind-Flowers?

This week’s note on mangling English: Since when was an industrial plant a farm? Electricity does not grow, breathe, or look cute in photos. There is nothing biological to sell.

Some will say the term “farm” has broader definitions now. I say we might as well call a coal-fired-plant a “coal farm”, or Fukishima a “nuclear-farm” (that had a “farming accident”)?

The word “farm” has been stolen for its good PR value. Let’s take it back.

Industrial wind turbines are a massive subsidy swamp that produces almost nothing that can’t be provided in cheaper and more efficient ways elsewhere.

Can someone let Wikipedia know that Industrial Wind Turbines are not “Wind Parks” either?



Photo: “Windpark-Wind-Farm” by Philip May – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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