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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German govt plans will “kill” wind industry

Sigmar Gabriel, the German Economy Minister, has announced they’d like to amend the Renewable Energies Act (EEG) in the next few months or so. The plan is for the total amount of renewable energy on the grid to be capped at 40 – 45% by 2025.  It was at 33% at the end of 2015 but was still climbing rapidly. Check out the eyewatering transition being planned now:

A study by consultants ERA on behalf of the Green Party’s parliamentary group concludes that under these provisions the development of wind energy will collapse fairly soon: A target of 45 percent would mean that only 1500 megawatts could be installed annually after 2018, according to the study. That’s less than half as the average of wind energy installed in the past five days.

Boom, meet Bust.

This would be such a turnaround, that not only would new wind turbines not be added, there would be less of them:

A 40% cap for wind energy completely stop the construction of new wind farms by of 2019, according to the ERA [consultants] study. Overall, this would reduce onshore wind power by almost 6000 megawatts compared to the end of 2015 – which would mean a massive slump in wind power generation by 18 terawatt hours.

The usual understated response from the Greens:

“The domestic market for many manufacturers collapses completely,” says Julia Verlinden, spokesperson for Energy Policy in the Green Party’s parliamentary group. “With their plan, the federal government is killing the wind companies.”

Is this “Peak Wind” or will the plans get watered down?

GWPF has the translation of the German news story.

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Hot magma is melting Greenland ice – can windfarms save it?

Greenland, magma, hot rocks, melting ice, geothermal heat, 2016.

Here on the ball of magma called Earth, there’s a hot plume of rocks under Iceland that stretches right across under Greenland. Those hot rocks are melting the ice from below in a band 1,200 km long and 400 km wide.[1]

I don’t think solar panels are going to stop Greenland melting.

The main part of the plume has been progressing eastward over the last 120 million years, right under Greenland and now lies under Iceland.

Will the media take a million years to catch on?

Presumably, being world class journalists, from now on all ABC/BBC/CBC stories will not mention melting Greenland ice-sheets without also noting that geothermal heat may be causing it instead of your long hot showers.

But a similar study published in Nature Geoscience 3 years ago was the forerunner to this one with similar conclusions and the mainstream media don’t seem to have noticed yet.[2]  No mention of magma, tectonics and hot rocks here: ABC — Antarctica’s melting ice alone could lift sea levels one metre by 2100, March 31st, 2016. Or here: ABC — Global warming melts last stable edge of Greenland’s Zachariae ice stream, March 17th, 2014. Or on the BBC – Ice sheet losses double, 2014. Or here — ABC: Antarctic ice shelf collapse “very likely”. October 2015.

There’s a hot blob under West Antarctica too

Likewise, soon the public broadcasters will let listeners know that West Antarctica lies over the southern edge of the Pacific Rim, and “might” have some geothermal heat from below too because there is giant blob of superheated rock there too. [3]

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Earthshine reflected off the moon shows no trend during the Pause

About a third of the sunlight that hits Earth gets reflected back out to space mainly by clouds, ice or bare earth. A small change in this can make a big difference to the global energy balance. And the energy balance is kinda “everything” in the climate debate. So this new paper by Palle et al really ought to attract quite a bit of interest. But for lots of reasons real data was never going to provide much joy for most climate scientists.

The Crescent Moon, Looking at Earthshine.

Image of the moon taken by Bob King of Sky and Telescope.

The thing is, climate models predict that CO2 will cause warming, which will in turn cause ice to melt and the albedo to get smaller, which will cause more warming… it’s a positive feedback.  So if albedo was shrinking during the last 2 decades, the Crisis Team could say the models were right about albedo, but then, golly, they were even more wrong about that warming that didn’t happen. On the other hand, if albedo was growing, they could add it to the list of excuses for The Pause and write headlines like: Global clouds increase — hiding the effect of CO2! But then skeptics could point out that if more CO2 causes more reflective clouds, the albedo may act as negative feedback — disaster averted.

But back to that data. One of the ways to measure albedo, can you believe, is to track Earthshine — the light that the Earth shines on the dark side of the moon. Obviously Earthshine is the lucky lotto-winning-light that reflects off Earth and hits the Moon, and then reflects back again to Earth again.

A new study by Palle puts together 16 years of data on this and finds there are big changes from year to year but overall there is no trend, which rather fits with The Pause.

Somehow, strangely, even though Life on Earth depends on calculating our Energy Balance, the golden river of climate gravy is not running through the land of Earthshine research. The researchers shifted from a meagre one telescope up to two in 2006. There’s a big gap in the global data in Figure 2 when that happened (see below). But even two telescopes are barely adequate. Palle et al estimate that with eight automatic robotic stations they could achieve 2 – 3 times the precision they have now. But while we can find funds to subsidize 225,000 wind towers, we can’t afford to do the proper basic research that might tell us whether we needed those 225,000 wind towers. Crony-renewables anyone?

If there is a crisis in our global energy balance, a lot of people don’t seem to be taking it seriously.


Earthshine, Energy Budget, Palle 2016. Figure 2.



The Earth’s albedo is a fundamental climate parameter for understanding the radiation budget of the atmosphere. It has been traditionally measured from space platforms, but also from the ground for sixteen years from Big Bear Solar Observatory by observing the Moon. The photometric ratio of the dark (earthshine) to the bright (moonshine) sides of the Moon is used to determine nightly anomalies in the terrestrial albedo, with the aim is of quantifying sustained monthly, annual and/or decadal changes. We find two modest decadal scale cycles in the albedo, but with no significant net change over the sixteen years of accumulated data. Within the evolution of the two cycles, we find periods of sustained annual increases, followed by comparable sustained decreases in albedo. The evolution of the earthshine albedo is in remarkable agreement with that from the CERES instruments, although each method measures different slices of the Earth’s Bond albedo.


Palle, E., et al. (2016), Earth’s albedo variations 1998-2014 as measured from ground-based earthshine observations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, doi:10.1002/2016GL068025.

Taking shots of the Moon? Bob King, of Sky and Telescope explains the finer details: To take your own photo like this, you need to get up just before dawn on April 6th (probably not possible now) to see the last tiny sliver of the moon. April 7th is a new moon. April 8th we’ll see a sliver of the waxing moon just after the sun sets. The post there counts the hours after the new moon occurs… Moongiant tracks the phases.

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Fracturing in the ranks — Myles Allen, IPCC scientist, tosses renewables under the bus

Kudos to Myles Allen. He might think CO2 is a problem, but at least he is being honest and slightly practical about dealing with it. That’s a big step up from those who urge us to panic about CO2, but then choose the most useless and expensive options to reduce it. Allen effectively gives Abbott’s Direct Action plan a big tick. Finally (indirectly) Tony Abbott gets some credit for out-greening the EU, and offering a more effective and cheaper way to achieve what the Greens said they want. Like I said, Abbott got reductions for $14 a ton,  the Greens should have loved him.

Anyway, Myles Allen’s done a study, published in Nature Climate Change, suggesting that there is no point in a few western nations driving in their economies into the dust to reduce their emissions when the rest of the world isn’t. So here’s one of the IPCC team repeating an argument that skeptics have said so many times: if we make ourselves a third world nation, we won’t be able to afford to look after the environment.  Our children will have to burn the environment for breakfast.

In the end though Allen thinks the answer is to remove the CO2 from the sky. So we are still talking of stuffing a perfectly good fertilizer down a deep hole. As far as carbon capture at power plants goes, remember you can just throw away 40% of the electricity the plant makes… “like the GFC of Engineering”.

Despite the small sign of common sense, the cynic in me wonders if this is just Big-Renewables versus Big-Sequestration: a bun fight over the spoils.

But it’s a good sign. The litany is breaking up…

Wind farms blowing us off course, scientist says

Spending billions on new nuclear power stations and offshore wind farms could make it harder to prevent dangerous climate change, a study has claimed.

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The media is bored of climate change? Blame Abbott and those climate deniers for fooling the dumb voters

The Reef took 6000 years to form. Suddenly it is bleached white, but the media are not putting it on page one. Oh the gnashing of teeth!

Peter Hartcher Sydney Morning Herald -- Tony Abbotts Harmful Legacy

‘…the news of its most severe bleaching didn’t even rate in the top five news topics.

‘Why? “It’s only a hypothesis, but I think there’s been a peaking of interest or concern” in matters related to climate change [says iSentia's Patrick Baume.]

Peak Climate? Yes, please…

“It’s seen as something a bit from the past, as if getting rid of the carbon tax meant we’d got rid of climate change. It’s a funny one.”

Or maybe people are bored of climate ghost stories? Maybe people realized climate change is always here.

The reef survived the Holocene Horrible Warming Period. (Formerly called The Holocene Optimum ;-) ). Things were even hotter then and seas around Queensland were 1 – 2 whole meters higher.  Apocalyptic stuff, yet somehow the reef made it without a single carbon trading scheme.


Sea Levels Queensland, Holocene

The last 8000 years of sea levels off Queensland

 Source: S Lewis et al Quaternary Science Reviews 2012.

Now tide gauges show seas are rising at 1mm a year. (See this sea level study too — 1mm). There’s only 1000 years to go to get back to the sea levels the Great Barrier Reef already knew for thousands of years.

There are no ice cores available in Queensland, but there are in Greenland and we can see the weather did a lot of changing. These are the same years the Great Barrier Reef formed and thrived in its current incarnation.  Current temps might be similar to the Medieval spike. Not unprecedented.

Great Barrier Reef, Temperatures, Holocene, GISP, Greenland.

This is what the temperature in Greenland was doing while the Great Barrier Reef formed.

Who gets the credit for this outbreak of climate-calmness?

This is partly an achievement of Tony Abbott and the climate change sceptics and deniers who were among his most fervent supporters.

We all say thank you :- )

Australia had a bipartisan consensus on climate change under John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull. The consensus was that climate change was real and that pricing carbon through an emissions trading scheme was the best way  for Australia  to respond.

Bollocks. “Australia” never had a consensus. The academic-eco-elite had a consensus:

Abbott shattered the consensus. He rode to power a conservative reaction against climate change action. He used it to destroy Turnbull’s leadership and then Rudd’s and, finally, Julia Gillard’s.

Exactly — the voters choose the man who offered them what they wanted — quote, Hartcher:  “a reaction against climate change action.”

Together with his footsoldiers in politics and the media, he succeeded in muddying the public’s understanding of climate change in the process. The conservative reaction intimidated some scientists, news editors and commentators.

Yes the ABC is quaking in their boots, interviewing skeptics every day, week, once a year. And the commentators bravely arguing for the exact same position as the small oppressed groups called the UN, World Bank, and EU are so intimidated they stopped calling people petty names –  denier… oh wait.

Which part of the public’s understanding got muddier, exactly?


Lewis, S.E., et al., Post-glacial sea-level changes around the Australian margin: a review, Quaternary Science
Reviews (2012), [abstract] (paywalled).

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CO2 emissions? It’s China China China all the way down…

No matter which way we slice and dice it, China is The-CO2-Player that matters. India is forecast for a larger percentage-wise increase, but it’s starting from a small base. By 2030 even after doubling its output, it will still be barely a quarter of China’s total mega-ton production. The Congo and Indonesia are among countries forecast to ramp up production of CO2 massively, yet both of them are but a spec. The hard numbers show that if CO2 actually mattered, and the eco-greens really cared about it, they be talking about “The China Problem”.

Australia is irrelevant, except in some symbolic sacrificial way. The 28% massive reduction, at great cost, will amount to nothing globally (assuming it can even be achieved). Though Tasmania may win the global race for the fastest transition from first to third world. (North Korea here we come).

In the end, the real drivers of global CO2 may or may not be things like forest and peat fires, ocean currents, phytoplankton in any case.  Won’t it be a great day when we figure exactly where all that CO2 is coming from and going to?

       — Jo


COP21 Pledges for greenhouse gas emissions

Guest Post by Tom Quirk

 189 countries submitted pledges to the COP21 meeting in Paris at the end of 2015. These have been sorted and summarised in a very useful website Carbon Brief[1]. The following analysis is based on the top 12 countries for greenhouse gas emissions. This covers 72% of the world total but ignores forest and peat fires. The pledges cover broadly defined greenhouse gas emissions. For instance Brazil has land use emissions that are estimated at 4 times the sum of their other contributions.

The total greenhouse gas emissions for 2012 were 10.85 Gt C in CO2-eqivalent while total CO2 emissions were estimated to be 9.68 Gt C in CO2. (Source Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center CDIAC[2])

The pledges have been standardized to be from 2012 to 2030 as countries have chosen various starting points to indicate their plans. The most important and most uncertain pledge is the target for China. The 75% increase indicated below is a “best estimate”.


Paris,Climate Change, CO2. 2016.

Evil countries planning to give cheap electricity to their citizens are marked in red.

Paris,Climate Change, CO2. 2016.

Global emissions are about China and some also-rans not worth mentioning.


For greenhouse gas emissions the pledges would see an increase from 7.83 Gt C to 9.59 Gt C for the 72% fraction analysed. This is a 23% increase. It is clear that China is both the major contributor to the increase and the source of the greatest uncertainty.

USA performance for CO2

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Met Bureau Bingo: warm autumn nights sold as “Hottest Ever” March extreme

It’s another month of BOM Bingo. The ABC and BOM are trumpeting a “hottest” ever headline yet again, and Warwick Hughes is onto them already.

Conveniently the ABC forgets to mention that March Maximum Temps have been hotter before many times and with a pattern that has nothing to do with CO2. How many in the ABC audience would know that?

March temperatures sets record as hottest ever, Bureau of Meteorology says

“You could be forgiven for not noticing the end of summer — March was a hot one.” says Sara Phillips. But actually, if you are human, you could be forgiven for thinking this was just another hot March like so many before. For SE Australia where most humans live, the hottest March, and wildly so, was in 1940. Across the whole of Australia these kinds of maximum temperatures in March have been occurring for decades and 1986 was much much hotter. See the BOM graph below.

Hands up who can spot the horrid effect of CO2 in this graph?

March Maximum Temperature for Australia

Stick with the logic. Must be CO2 that caused the cold spike in 2011 (and 1967, 1942 and 1913). This is witchcraft.

You could be forgiven for thinking the aim of the ABC is not to inform Australians about the weather that matters, but to score headlines involving the word “hottest”. When the coldest maximum March temperatures were set in March 2011, where was the ABC?

Do humans even notice “mean” temperatures?

Too tricky for words, the weather bureau was talking about hottest ever mean and minimum temperatures. Mean temperatures are almost never mentioned (not on the six o’clock news and weather) because we want to know the coldest and hottest temperatures each day, not the average of them. Nor are we too concerned with minimums in a middling month. It’s not about frosts or heat stroke.

In March the minimums really did hit a record. Effectively the Bureau of Meteorology (with a little help from the ABC) are marketing warm autumn nights as a form of extreme weather.

Minimum temperatures, Australia, March 2016

The mysterious hot spot that is Walungurru (Kintore) Airport

Map Walungurru, Giles, Meteorolocical stations, BOM

Location of Giles and Walungurru stations.

Warwick Hughes has spotted an oddity when comparing Giles to Walungurru which are 220km apart. Note the normal “pale yellow” minimums recorded at Giles near the border of WA-SA-NT. Giles is a specialist meteorology station and has been there since 1956. It is the only staffed weather station within an area of about 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi).

Contrast that with the big red blob on the border of WA and the NT at Walungurru “Airport”, which has only been recording since 2002 — admire the sparse graph of total monthly data there which shows how small this dataset is. Warwick Hughes notes that for most of its life that spot has recorded strange nightly hot temperatures which don’t match the thousands of square kilometers all around — see his post on the persistent night time error anomaly map. This is a vast desert plain. It shouldn’t have a climate all of its own here showing 3C warmer at night for entire whole years than the thermometers “nearby”.

How much of Australia’s “average” temperature depends on this one likely flawed station?

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The Cassandra Effect — Academic Apes protecting territory

April 1. A new anthropology paper looks at the Academic Ape and the way it guards its territory and resources, not surprisingly rejecting unpaid contributions from outside academia as a threat to their perceived status and income. The hypothesis predicts that the more qualified and erudite the outsider is, the more vicious the response will be, especially if the highly qualified outsider gives their labor freely.

The Academic Ape: Instinctive aggression and boundary enforcing behaviour in academia

Published on  Amazon in Kindle version.

Two areas of territorial aggression are offered as examples — archaeology and climate (you couldn’t see that coming). This new paper looks at how the academic boundary enforcement compares to things like union disputes, and patterns of ape behaviour (See Table 1). An interesting paper.

The climate debate is so hostile people don’t even speak English –  “denier”

There is no accurate definition of “denier” in English in a climate science debate, yet professors use it, and importantly other professors in virtually every other field don’t seem to mind.  A survey of 5,000 skeptics shows almost all agree with most mainstream statements used in the climate debate — i.e. that CO2 is increasing, that it is a greenhouse gas, and the climate is warming.

Survey, Climate skeptics, Climate sceptics, 2015, climate change.

Click to enlarge

“Denier” is obviously just a way to badger people into submitting to an idea that can’t be justified with rational discussion. It’s common use shows how far from scientific the academic world of “climate science” is.

Vitriolic attacks are like “union demarcation disputes”:

… issues such as climate, where outsiders have suffered vitriolic attacks from academics (e.g. Lewandowsky, Gleick, Mann, etc.) and where these attacks have been widely supported from academia, may have very little to do with the actual subject material or the relative state of knowledge or experience of the parties. Instead it is suggested that they can be likened to union “demarcation disputes” between the “academic union” on the one side and the outsider who is treated as “blacklegs” or “scabs”.

There are three conditions that generate aggressive boundary disputes:

This threat response appears to be heightened when three conditions exists. First against altruistic outsiders who give their labour freely and so not only threaten the academics perceived territory, but also undermine the economic value of academia. Second, outsiders who have a high level of qualification and wider experience than academia are seen as more of a potential threat. And thirdly, when outsiders formulate their contributions in the style, language and format suggestive of academic work, this in itself signals an incursion into the academic territory.

Thus, whilst academics often reject external work as being of poor quality, perversely, far from eliciting the expected  intellectual response expected, work of the highest calibre, by those most qualified, and freely given, is most likely to be treated as a direct threat and stimulate the most hostile response from the “academic ape”.

Gatekeeping in peer review publishing is like scent marking to demark territory:

The system of peer review appears to be a form of gate-keeping mechanism. Thus suggestions that outsiders should have their work “peer reviewed” are disingenuous, particularly as in areas like climate peer review has not been the supposed hallmark of quality it is claimed. Instead it  is  suggested peer review should be seen as similar to behaviour like “scent marking”: used to demark the boundary, claim ownership of territory and attempt to establish authority.

The hypocrisy of qualifications

While academic insiders without any qualifications relevant to climate science are encouraged to speak out, and even to launch irrational personal attacks, outsiders who are more qualified than these same people are attacked as not-qualified-enough. The only explanation for this must be sociological in nature argue the authors (ahem, or economic thinks Jo):

Ad Hominem Attacks

One of the main areas of study resulting in the findings presented in this paper was carried out in an attempt to understand the appalling behaviour that led to the frequent use by academics of term “denier” which from this quote was clearly intended to portray sceptics as Holocaust camp detainees

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