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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Australian Medical Association survey on climate change

The Australian Medical Association is a powerful union here, and the  AMA President, Brian Owler, is an outspoken advocate of the need for more action to change the climate, calling it “intergenerational theft” if we don’t do something. (Apparently we care for our kids by spending billions of their dollars now on schemes to fix the weather. If that’s not stealing, what is? )

Apparently the AMA are surveying their members to prepare for their big political climate statement. Christopher Monckton has the questions (and the correct answers) below. My message is that the climate models are wrong, and that thousands of scientists, including most engineers and geologists and even half of meteorologists are skeptical of the exaggerated forecasts. Carbon dioxide has a small effect which is magnified in models with guesses about humidity and clouds that we know are wrong. Australian doctors have a great reputation that will be tarnished if they are seen as using their trusted position to score unscientific and political points.

Though if the AMA did come out as “Doctors for the Planet” raging against carbon, I look forward to John Cook’s announcement that their opinion is irrelevant because they have no expertise in climate science.

– Jo


Another me-too climate statement by a non-climate body

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

Several concerned senior members of the medical profession in Australia have contacted the Lord Monckton Foundation to express their disappointment at an opinion survey on climate change circulated by the Association’s President, who proposes to promulgate what would be yet another me-too “Position Statement on Climate Change”.

Though, as one doctor has pointed out, it is welcome that before the Association commits itself to any position statement it is first consulting its members [which is more than can be said for most scientific societies that have issued “me-too” statements on climate change], members are dismayed that they are being consulted on a subject that is wholly beyond the scientific competence or remit of the medical profession.

An eminent specialist at a tertiary training institution put it thus: “I have no expert knowledge in the sciences associated with climate, meteorology etc. I very much doubt if many members of the AMA have the relevant knowledge to come out in support or protest of any particular climate stance … any noise generated by the AMA carries no more weight than any other trade grouping.”

It has also been suggested that “the President has political aspirations and may be doing a Gore”

The most frequent complaint, however, is that the terms of the survey are prejudiced, being calculated to reflect only an interventionist viewpoint. For instance, one of the survey questions cites the final report of Tim Flannery’s relentlessly partisan and now disbanded Climate Change “Authority”.

Flannery is the activist, paid $180,000 of Australian taxpayers’ money per year for his former part-time sinecure as head of the “Authority”, who foretold that, because of manmade global warming, never again would water flow through the rivers of the vast Murray-Darling Basin to the major population centers of south-eastern Australia.

Just months later, the most recent of the region’s frequent droughts broke and heavy rains filled every river and reservoir in the system to the brim.

To assist doctors who may wish to participate in the AMA President’s propaganda exercise, but in a manner that accords not with his self-evident prejudices but with objective scientific data and peer-reviewed results, each of the survey’s questions will be set forth, followed by relevant data and references.

To what extent do you agree that “There is now substantial evidence to indicate that human activity – and specifically increased greenhouse gas emissions – is a key factor in the pace and extent of global temperature increases”?

The upper few meters of the ocean, which must warm if the planetary surface is to warm, have cooled very slightly  during the 11 years of systematic subsea temperature observation by the 3600 automated bathythermograph floats of the ARGO series.[1] The floats only measure the top mile and a quarter of an ocean that is in places many miles deep. Over the entire mile and a quarter there has been warming, but only at a rate equivalent to 1 C° every 430 years:


Global Ocean Temperatures, ARGO buoys, 2015, Heat content,

The gentle increase in the ocean warming rate with depth suggests volcanic warming by slow diffusion from below rather than greenhouse-gas-driven warming from above. The warming may be occurring chiefly via the mid-ocean divergence boundaries through which magmatic heat is transferred directly to the sea floor. We do not know for sure, because the ocean below 1.9 km depth is not systemically monitored.

Or there may be no ocean warming at all, for each buoy has to measure a 200,000 km3 volume of seawater about 200 miles square by a mile and a quarter deep, so that the coverage uncertainty is monstrous.

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Livestream: Heartland International Climate Conference

These are always great events

Watch it live. Starting at 9:30am EST USA time (11:30 pm Sydney, 9:30pm Perth, 2:30pm London, 6:30 LA.)

Schedule below:

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Devastating Pacific Ocean warming, 10,000 years ago

A new study suggests that the Pacific ocean near Peru was two degrees warmer 10,000 years ago.[1]

The current rate of warming (as estimated by ARGO buoys in the last ten years) is 0.005C per year. So we are only 400 years away from achieving the same kind of warming the Mesopotamian Farmers did.

Of course this could be just a localized warm patch, except that an earlier study showed that waters draining out of the Pacific to the Indian Ocean were also much hotter during the same era.[2]

East pacific ocaean, heat, temperature, global warming, holocene.

The present time is on the left. Graph A shows temperature proxy from Antarctic ice cores, graph B shows 0-150m depth ocean temperature in black

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Climate Change will ruin beer, chocolate, coffee, says The Guardian

More adventures in science from The Guardian. “No more beer, chocolate or coffee: how climate change could ruin your weekend”.

Obviously, since coffee, hops, and cocoa are all plants which like arctic weather and frosts, and grow mainly in Greenland glaciers, a warmer world will devastate these essential foods. I’m in tears just thinking about it.

Likewise, being alien silicon lifeforms, these plants will struggle as the pollution called carbon dioxide rises from 0.04% of the atmosphere to 0.05%. Oh the pain. If only these plants used CO2 as a basic building block like every other plant on Earth.

It must be tough being so much smarter than the rest of the world.

Guardian Science: climate change will ruin beer, satire, humour, parody


Somehow, somewhere, The Guardian become The Guard-Onion. I just can’t take these people seriously anymore. Dear Karl Matheisen, what were you thinking?

 No more beer, chocolate or coffee: how climate change could ruin your weekend

Climate change is the biggest threat to all of civilisation our species has faced since the 80s. Scientists say rising seas will envelope major cities around the world while heatwaves will bring wildfires and torrential rains bring floods. And the global economy is stuffed.

But as if that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that climate change might even mess up that most holy of traditions – your weekend.

Breweries for climate propaganda?

Thankfully, 42 breweries have weighed in to illuminate us about the true scale of the threat – we might actually run out of beer. From California to the Czech Republic, hop production is being hit by rising temperatures and a lack of water. Beer could also start to taste worse, according to the Czechs, but their beer is rubbish anyway.

The full list of Breweries signing the “Climate Declaration

If you like one of these breweries, why don’t you write to them to let them know that a weak pandering beer that appeals to the thought police leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You’d rather drink a strong beer that stood up to nonsense. Or you could just send them the image or link to this page?

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Forget momentum for renewables. Five of the G7 nations increased their coal use

Spot the contradictions. Oxfam want us to believe we can be “coal free” in France, the UK and Italy by 2023. Then they tell us that most of these richest of rich nations are already trying and failing to do that. They are using more coal.

Then there is a nifty graph below, which seems to suggest that in these same nations solar is cheaper than coal. If solar is so cheap then, we don’t need any schemes, markets or subsidies. Right?

Welcome to reality — even the richest greenest nations need more coal:

Five of the world’s seven richest countries have increased their coal use in the last five years despite demanding that poor countries slash their carbon emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change, new research shows.

Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and France together burned 16% more coal in 2013 than 2009 and are planning to further increase construction of coal-fired power stations. Only the US and Canada of the G7 countries meeting on Monday in Berlin have reduced coal consumption since the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.

The US has reduced its coal consumption by 8% largely because of fracking for shale gas. Overall, the G7 countries reduced coal consumption by less than 1% between 2009-2013, the Oxfam research shows.

A tad ambitious?

The UK could feasibly stop burning coal for its energy supply by 2023, according to Oxfam’s report.

….  and in the US and Canada by 2030

There is a reason Africa is poor and Africans want to come to the West.

The briefing paper comes as nearly 200 countries meet in Bonn ahead of crunch climate talks in Paris later this year, and shows that G7 coal plants emit twice as much CO2 as the entire African continent annually, and 10 times as much as the 48 least developed countries put together.

 I don’t think this is the message Oxfam wanted to share

Read the fine print. You might think this is a map of countries where solar is cheaper than conventional electricity.

Oxfam, graph, cost of solar compared to conventional

The graph comes from Deutche Bank, the bank that cares about the environment.

These green colored countries have “regions” where solar is cheaper. How big is a region? Does that mean if solar makes sense in Tibooburra and East Widgiemooltha all 7 million square kilometers of Australia gets the deep green treatment on this map? If a country has expensive electricity (making it even easier for solar to compete) they get the mid-green paint, though they’d probably prefer cheap electrons.

But this graph is not entirely useless. We can assume Oxfam/Deutsche Bank  were dedicated about finding every region where solar could possibly be said to be competitive, so the green color code is meaningless, but the grey areas, they tell us a lot. We know where solar is probably a waste of money.

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A bit of a backdown? — G7 leaders to go slow on low carbon

World G7 leaders resolved to bravely free us from fossil fuels after most people alive today are long departed. Either this a back-down, admitting that the tipping point is not upon us, or possibly, they are reframing the Paris target. This modest announcement paves the way for a press release in December saying they will decarbonize by 2075. Imagine the headlines: “Shock historic agreement in Paris accelerates decarbonization deadline.” Forgive me being a cynic.

Greenpeace welcomed the “vision of a 100% renewable future”, saying “Elmau delivered”, as if world leaders have not been issuing motherhood statements about clean-green-energy-visions for twenty years. Avaaz got excited that Angela Merkel “‘Auf Wiedersehen’ (farewell) to fossil fuels.” They’ll get excited about anything. But at least Friends of the Earth said the delay would be “devastating”. Perhaps Friends of the Earth still thinks CO2 matters?

Every step is major step — even the announcement of a non-binding far distant wish list:

[Reuters] Leaders of the world’s major industrial democracies resolved on Monday to wean their energy-hungry economies off carbon fuels, marking a major step in the battle against global warming that raises the chances of a U.N. climate deal later this year.

On climate change, the G7 leaders pledged in a communique after their two-day meeting to develop long-term low-carbon strategies and abandon fossil fuels by the end of the century.

It doesn’t take much to earn climate credentials:

The Group of Seven’s energy pledge capped a successful summit for host Angela Merkel, who revived her credentials as a “climate chancellor” and strengthened Germany’s friendship with the United States at the meeting in a Bavarian resort.

 It is all about Paris now — what matters is legal force (and lots of money).

The G7 stopped short of agreeing any immediate collective targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which the Europeans had pressed their partners in the club to embrace. But they said a U.N. climate conference later this year should reach a deal with legal force, including through binding rules, to combat climate change.

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The IPCC has become to science what FIFA is to soccer (Time to axe both)

You don’t need a science degree to see how weak the evidence is.

Nick Cater, author, journalist, editor, writes in The Australian about the contradictions and failed predictions of climate experts. He lists the “own goals” — like the Himalayan Glaciers, The Hockeystick, Antarctic Sea ice (which is at another record high) and The Pause.

For two-and-a-half decades, the planet has been defying the experts’ expectations. At the 1988 Toronto conference experts warned temperatures would rise by between 1.5C and 4.5C by 2050. With 27 years gone and 35 to go the rise is barely a quarter of a degree. The world had better roll its sleeves up.

There is a pattern to these mistakes:

No one expects experts to be perfect, but as Robert Watson – a former IPCC chairman – has pointed out, the errors follow a pattern. “The mistakes all appear to have gone in the direction of making it seem like climate change is more serious by overstating the impact,” he observed after the failure of the Copenhagen conference. “That is worrying.”

The IPCC has become to science what FIFA is to soccer; bloated, un-accountable and out of touch. Its reluctance to address the 15-year warming pause is “a symptomatic of a failure of leadership,” says author Rupert Darwell. “The IPCC is un-reformable and the Fifth Assessment Report should be the IPCC’s last.” Yet both the science and the process have become too big to fail; countless experts have invested their professional reputations in the theory and countless more in the quest for a symbolic international agreement.

When science is “too big to fail”, it is too big to succeed:

Yet both the science and the process have become too big to fail; countless experts have invested their professional reputations in the theory and countless more in the quest for a symbolic international agreement.

I want Rupert Darwall’s line to catch on:

We have reached a global warming paradox. “The science is weak but the idea is strong,” writes Darwall. “Global warming’s success in colonising the Western mind and in changing government policies has no precedent.

Read the rest in  The Australian, or at Nick Cater’s blog

Nick Cater is Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre.

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Researchers astonished: Coral reefs thriving in a more “acidic” ocean

Palau islands, Pacific coral reef

Palau Islands

The researchers at Woods Hole have spent four years doing a comprehensive study at Palau Rock Islands in the far Western Pacific, where pH levels are naturally “more acidic” (which is  big-government speak for less alkaline). Because of laboratory experiments Barkley et al [1] expected to find all kinds of detrimental effects, but instead found a diverse healthy system they describe as “thriving” with “greater coral cover” and more “species”.

A new study led by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that the coral reefs there seem to be defying the odds, showing none of the predicted responses to low pH except for an increase in bioerosion — the physical breakdown of coral skeletons by boring organisms such as mollusks and worms. The paper is to be published June 5 in the journal Science Advances.

‘Based on lab experiments and studies of other naturally low pH reef systems, this is the opposite of what we expected,’ says lead author Hannah Barkley, a graduate student in the WHOI-MIT joint program in oceanography.

Experiments measuring corals’ responses to a variety of low pH conditions have shown a range of negative impacts, such as fewer varieties of corals, more algae growth, lower rates of calcium carbonate production (growth), and juvenile corals that have difficulty constructing skeletons.

‘Surprisingly, in Palau where the pH is lowest, we see a coral community that hosts more species, and has greater coral cover than in the sites where pH is normal,’ says Anne Cohen, a co-author on the study and Barkley’s advisor at WHOI. ‘That’s not to say the coral community is thriving because of it, rather it is thriving despite the low pH, and we need to understand how.’

Coral reef, pacific, diversity

Spectacular reefs at Palau Islands

Researchers were perplexed, and when looking at other lower-pH reef systems the only common marker that was affected was an increase in bioerosion, which sounds kinda scary, but given the health of the reef, perhaps it reflects more turnover? The researchers point out that an increase in bioerosion is a “potential threat” to the survival of corals. But lets not forget that they are saying this as they report a real world example of higher bioerosion on a healthy reef with more species and more coral.

What’s interesting to me is how surprised the researchers are when pH levels naturally vary around the worlds oceans, and sometimes by as much as 1.4 pH units in a single day at a single location. Ocean acidification is a natural, daily thing in some places, and marine life copes. It appears to cycle with the PDO. Moreso, we know that corals evolved in a world with a much higher CO2 level, and ice age swings mean temperatures and sea levels have also rapidly changed, yet corals survived.

The natural pH of various Palau Reefs plotted against IPCC approved projections of future ocean pH.

Ocean acidification, coral reef, research, palau islands. Barkey et al, 2015, Graph of pH variance, IPCC projected ocean pH.

Barkey et al, 2015 |  Fig. 1. Natural acidification gradient across Palau mirrors projected anthropogenic CO2-driven changes in ocean chemistry. Shown are the mean (±1 SD) dawn-to-dusk pH and War for our 11 reef study sites and diurnal pH variability at three of those sites over 4 days (inset) (fig. S1: sites 1, 2, and 10). Shaded regions indicate the range of western tropical Pacific open ocean pH and War levels in 2000 (blue) and open ocean values predicted for 2050 (orange) and 2100 (red) (12, 52). Colored points correspond to pH time series in inset.

The Scripps study shows the natural swings in pH:

ocean acidification, pH variations, Scripps,

Figure 3. Metrics of short-term pH variability at 15 locations worldwide, ranked by ascending values. Mean = geometric mean; Max = maximum value recorded; Min = minimum value recorded; SD = standard deviation; Range = Max – Min; Rate = mean of the absolute rate of change between adjacent data points.

Did the press office write this incorrect line (bolded), or did it come from the researchers?

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, ocean pH has fallen by 0.1 pH units, which represents an increase in acidity of approximately 30 percent. For marine life that has evolved over millions of years in relatively stable pH conditions, this kind of rapid change doesn’t allow for much time to adapt. By the end of this century, pH levels are projected to be nearly 150 percent more acidic, resulting in a pH that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20 million years.

The use of the phrases “opposite of what we expected”, “none of the predicted responses” and “surprisingly” to describe the researchers suggests that neither Woods Hole or MIT are giving their oceanography students and staff adequate, comprehensive training. How much money is wasted because researchers don’t know the basics about the evolution and variability of the natural systems they study?

The press release mentions a different study released earlier this year that suggests that “acidification” of the ocean will be a problem in sites suffering from high nutrient loads.[2] In which case, we ought focus on real pollution (such as fertilizer run-off) rather than wasting time on an essential, natural, variable component of ecosystems, right? I’m all for that.

Note, I’m not suggesting that changing average global ocean pH would have no effect, and would not change diversity at all — there may be some winners and losers –  but the fear and hype associated with it is not supported by the evidence. A little bit of ocean acidification could possibly even be a good thing according to hundreds of studies. On this site Brice Bosnich described the basics on the chemistry of ocean acidification here: normal everyday pure rain is pH 5.7 and rivers are obviously more acidic than oceans will ever be. That there are freshwater species that survive under these conditions is not “proof” that extra CO2 is 100% safe, but when will our public paid “experts” start to give the public the whole truth, and not just carefully crafted hyperbole?

Press Release

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What green vision? US forests burned to make costly UK electricity and produce more CO2

The Green movement have come full circle, from protecting forests and attacking coal, to preserving coal and destroying forests. The most interesting question for me (apart from wondering how long it can continue) is what the UK environmental movement is going to do with this. Do they care about forests? Do they care about the electricity bills inflicted on the poor? Do CO2 emissions matter?

In the UK, the Drax plant was once the largest coal fired power station. Now, thanks to £340 million in ‘green’ subsidies (and the rest) it makes electricity that is twice as expensive, produces more CO2, and apparently razes US forests to do it.

The Mail on Sunday has discovered that the UK Drax plant was paid by the British taxpayer to burn “millions of tons of wood pellets” which the company says are from ” dust and residues from sawmills”. But according to witnesses, environmentalists and workers, the wood is coming from US forests that are clearfelled to supply it. The Mail on Sunday has accounts from a senior forester in the firm in North Carolina that supplies Drax. He claims the company is clear-felling forests that aren’t suitable for logging, and that most of the wood ends up as pellets and chips. Likewise, some US environmentalists are tracking the trucks and photographing the damage:

Late last month, Dogwood campaigner Adam Macon travelled with colleagues to the Enviva pellet plant at Ahoskie, North Carolina, where he saw piles of hardwood trunks 40 feet high being fed into the plant’s hopper – the start of the process where the trees are pulped and turned into pellets. These could not be described as ‘leftovers’.

Macon recorded the number plate details of an empty truck leaving the plant and followed it to a forested area 20 miles away.

“All that was left were the stumps of once great trees. They had destroyed an irreplaceable wetland treasure.’”

Drax is reputed to be the “UK’s biggest single contributor towards meeting stringent EU green energy targets.” It is starting up a third big biomass unit in a few weeks and may get “over £1 billion” in subsidies.

The electricity it produces costs £80 per MW/hr which is “two-and-a-half times more expensive than coal”.

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Weekend Unthreaded

Perhaps I need a “Tips and Ideas” thread?

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