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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Is a mini-ice age coming in 2030, and does the sun have two dynamos?

Is the Sun driven by two dynamos, each running on slightly different 11 year cycles?

Many people are talking about a new forecast of a mini-ice age (which seems to be an increasingly popular thing to predict.) This one comes from a paper published last year but presented at the Royal Astronomical Society last week. Shepard, Zharkov and Zharkova may have gotten us a step closer to understanding why the solar cycle varies in length from 8 to 14 years. Since the level of solar activity correlates with both the the length of the current solar cycle and the surface temperatures on Earth one solar cycle later (the notch-delay theory, and see the work of David Archibald),  it may make it possible to predict the climate decades in advance. (With the caveat that this new study is still a model, correlation is not causation, etc.)

One of the better descriptions comes from Astronomy Now.

The Sun, like all stars, is a large nuclear fusion reactor that generates powerful magnetic fields, similar to a dynamo. The model developed by Zharkova’s team suggests there are two dynamos at work in the Sun; one close to the surface and one deep within the convection zone. They found this dual dynamo system could explain aspects of the solar cycle with much greater accuracy than before — possibly leading to enhanced predictions of future solar behaviour. “We found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs; originating in two different layers in the Sun’s interior. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although this frequency is slightly different [for both] and they are offset in time,” says Zharkova. The two magnetic waves either reinforce one another to produce high activity or cancel out to create lull periods.

With the Sun, we struggle for good data. Shepard et al only have three sunspot cycles of magnetic field data to go on but used the longer sunspot records as well.

Graph, Solar cycle model, Shepard, Predictions

Figure 4. Modulus summary principal component (solid curve) calculated from Equations (6) and (7) for cycles 21–23 and predicted for cycles 24–26, the modulus summary PC derived from SBMF in cycles 21–23 (dotted curve) and in cycle 24 (dashed curve). | Click to expand.

The debate on this one is certainly not over. The new paper suggest there are two solar dynamos but in 2011 Nicola Scafetta argued that solar dynamics is best modeled with three interference circulation modes. His model reproduces past solar activity for millennia and also predicted a grand minimum by 2030.

Guest post by Dr David Evans

The topic is a prediction publicized over the weekend that “Solar activity predicted to fall 60% in 2030s, to ‘mini ice age’ levels“. This is quite plausible, because it fits with several other predictions made in 2013 by a number of authors (Special Issue of Pattern Recognition in Physics, Mörner, Tattersall & Solheim, 2013).

Be aware that “solar activity” refers to the number of sunspots, not the total energy output of the Sun — which is very near constant and has varied less than 0.15% over the last 400 years. It’s not as if the Sun is going to be producing 60% less heat: it will produce almost exactly the same heat as it always does, just with far fewer sunspots.

Solar cycle activity, maximum and minimum, NASA photo

A comparison of three images over four years apart illustrates how the level of solar activity has risen from near minimum to near maximum in the Sun’s 11-years solar cycle. These images are captured using He II 304  emissions showing the solar corona at a temperature of about 60,000 degrees K. Many more sunspots, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections occur during the solar maximum. The increase in activity can be seen in the number of white areas, i.e., indicators of strong magnetic intensity .Source: NASA

However, even this is very significant. Last year we blogged that the number of sunspots accurately predicts the small changes in temperature here on Earth, such as those associated with global warming, but with a delay of one sunspot cycle (which averages 11 years, but is only half the Sun’s full cycle, which averages about 22 years).

There was a largish fall in solar activity in 2004 (in 11 year smoothed TSI), so there will be a significant and sustained fall in global temperature on Earth starting in about 2017 (the current sunspot cycle is a long one, about 13 years, 2004 + 13 = 2017). This will outweigh the warming effect of extra carbon dioxide.

The Earth has been in a warming trend for the past 350 years, since the depth of the Little Ice Age during the Maunder Minimum, in the second half of the 1600’s. This warming trend appears to be driven by solar activity—carbon dioxide didn’t start increasing until 1800 or so, and didn’t really get going until after WWII with post-war industrialization.

So the Shepard paper’s prediction that the Sun is going inactive, and will lead to a cooler Earth such as last seen in the Maunder Minimum of the 1600s (when ice fairs on the Thames River in London were common), is plausible and likely.

Note that the influence of sunspots on terrestrial temperatures is not because the heat of the Sun varies (that variation is pretty insignificant in terms of global warming or cooling). It is because something about the Sun, perhaps its UV output or a magnetic influence on the Earth’s upper atmosphere, affects the cloud cover on Earth, and thus how much sunlight the Earth reflects back out to space. More clouds mean more sunlight is reflected without warming the Earth, so the Earth is cooler. If the Sun is affecting the cloud cover on Earth, it is affecting the Earth’s temperature even though the heat from the Sun stays about constant.

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Forget the climate — Spend billions to stop Australia being called names like “Pariah” and “Denier”

Color me alarmed. We might be called names! Let’s make National Policy to avoid embarrassment.

Australian carbon dioxide emissions, cartoon, global temperature changeTim Flannery and the “Climate Council” think we should spend billions in an attempt to pander to foreign opinions — but it’s not even the average global citizen we are talking about, just the international inner-city cafe-latte crowd. Everyone worries about the environment in surveys, but they don’t care enough to spend much money on it. And last time I looked, being a Global Climate Pariah was good for our tourism –  visitors were still flocking to Australia after we got rid of the carbon tax, and the Chardonnay set were still drinking our wine (all 700 million liters).

It’s not about global temperatures

No one can pretend Australia can cool the planet: we emit a mere 1.16% of human emissions. Total human output of CO2 is a mere 4% of nature. Even if the IPCC was completely right, and we shut down Australia and everybody left — we would cool world temperatures by 0.0154 °C. Welcome to Futility Island — Australian emissions of CO2 are irrelevant to global temperatures.

So why cut CO2 at all –  Because we are scared of being called names?

Everyone is a pariah these days

Last week the UK cut green subsidies (it was so harsh, the industry called an emergency summit). Germany are chopping back the green schemes, burning more coal,  and gave up on their 2020 emissions target. In Japan, emissions hit new record highs. The former ambitious emissions targets nearly all failed (Australia being one of the only Annex 1 countries to make its Kyoto agreement) and new emissions targets keep moving into the far unaccountable future.  A few weeks ago, the G7 leaders met and resolved to bravely free us 100% from fossil fuels — but only after most people alive today are dead.

If the fuss was about actual CO2 emissions, Australia would be a hero — per capita Australian emissions have fallen by 28% since 1990. The “pariah” status is about pandering to the green industry, self-serving bureaucrats, and the eco-religion. Grovel to the Green gods!

In any case, actual atmospheric CO2 levels seem to be rising faster over developing nations.  Watch carbon dioxide rise and fall in a global seasonal pattern that depends mostly on warmth and sunlight.

The Australian

Aust will be a pariah if no climate action

AUSTRALIA risks becoming a “global pariah” if the federal government doesn’t step up efforts to tackle climate change, experts warn.

THE Climate Council says with all G7 countries except Japan outlining their new emissions reduction targets ahead of the Paris summit, it’s clear that most countries see it’s in their national interest to take accelerating action.

“This is likely the first time in recent history that Australia has come under such sustained criticism from other countries over its domestic policies,” chief councillor Tim Flannery said in a statement.

It’s a symbolic thing. We hope China, 1.4 billion, is hankering to follow our lead towards eco-martyrdom.

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Weekend Unthreaded

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The 99.99% pure climate consensus – how to ignore thousands of skeptical scientists

Climate science consensus, peer review publication. "Chance of a skeptical paper getting past peer review gate-keepers is 0.0058%"


Joy. It’s another profoundly unscientific “consensus” study. At least one person thought that the  97% PR figure was not enough, and that magic 99.9% would sway the crowds. As if there was even one fence-sitter sitting, waiting, saying, “97% was too low…”

For the herding type of human, “consensus” is magnetically convincing. Not so for the independent minds who have seen prediction after prediction fail. If a 97% consensus on a highly complex, immature science is difficult to believe, a 99.99% one is comic. More of the same unconvincing stuff will do nothing except set off the BS meter.  This new study will sway no one. The supernatural purity of it will work against “The Cause”.

A consensus is the one and only argument of the unskeptical, and they are doing it to death.

One fan, James Powell, was so enthused he spent nine months reading titles and abstracts of 24,000 papers, and found only four scientists (4!) who didn’t agree with the consensus. Some 69,402 other scientists apparently endorse “the consensus” (whatever it is) because they used the terms “climate change”, or “global warming” and they didn’t also make a clear statement that it was false, or claim that something else explains the rise in temperatures better than CO2. I’m pretty sure the perfect 99.99% consensus includes Roy Spencer, William Braswell, Richard Lindzen, and pretty much any other publishing skeptic you can name bar The Special Four Skeptics: F. Gervais,  S. Avakyan,  Will Happer,  and Heinz Hug.

Here’s the news:

The 97 Percent Scientific Consensus on Climate Change Is Wrong—It’s Even Higher

[The consensus is 99.99%] …”according to James L. Powell, director of the National Physical Sciences Consortium, who reviewed more than 24,000 peer-reviewed scientific articles on climate change published between 2013 and 2014.  Powell identified 69,406 authors named in the articles, four of which rejected climate change as being caused by human emissions. That’s one in every 17,352 scientists. “

Avoiding thousands of skeptical scientists is a  minor achievement. Surveys of meteorologists, geologists and engineers, show half or more are skeptics. Likewise lists of thousands of named skeptics who endorsed a very skeptical statement far outnumber his “list” of unsurveyed believers-by-default.

But his study may give us insight into the size and purity of the government-funded climate science industry, which apparently numbers around 70,000 scientists. Though it could be that he’s inadvertently measuring the odds of getting a paper published in the peer review press with both “climate change” and an actual definitive statement that something other than CO2 causes it  — the odds are about 0.0058%. No wonder most professional scientists know to avoid those magic keyword combinations. Though in Powell’s study, if you discussed how the sun explained global warming in the conclusion or the press release (but not the abstract or title) you’d be listed as endorsing the “consensus”. Smile!


Given the $7 billion in funding from the US government for the 2015 financial year, marked for climate science and clean energy, it is hardly surprising that there are a lot of papers about “climate change” and “global warming”. There are a lot of people studying how big the crisis might be, how to solve the crisis we might be having, and what the effects of this crisis might be (if we are having one). What there is not, are institutions of people specifically tasked to investigate how minor CO2 is, how beneficial it is, or to assess if the Sun controls most of our climate. Around the Western world there is no government funding specifically to audit or find problems with the man-made global warming theory. There are no programs with the sole purpose of finding natural causes to provide the counter arguments ($0). The purity is near complete. Skeptics mostly have to fund themselves. That’s a very high barrier to publication.

How to ignore thousands of scientists:

  1. Pretend that science is not about cause and effect, arguments, or evidence. It’s a voting game. Do we vote for gravity?
  2. Assume that “peer review” is part of the Scientific Method. Too bad for Edison, Einstein, Darwin, and those other non-reviewed guys and gals. Their work doesn’t count.
  3. Cut the study years back to 2013 – 2014. Who knew that these were the magic years of “scientific truth”?
  4. Include thousands of irrelevant studies. It’s hard to believe there are 12,000 papers a year studying the cause of global warming. Does his study include every possible variation of the effects of global warming instead, like lemur movements, and butterfly ranges? Hard to say without access to “Web Of Science”, but Powell guesses we’ll say these papers are not about global warming, and provides an example of a paper, which not so reassuringly … is not about global warming. Read the title: “Investigation on critical breakdown electric field of hot sulfur hexafluoride/carbon tetrafluoride mixtures for high voltage circuit breaker applications.” He argues that the authors say it is about global warming, because they mention the keywords “global warming” in the abstract. (I don’t suppose they they might be trying to justify their work or funding?) These authors may well be believers who are searching for a substitute for the greenhouse gas called SF6, but they aren’t studying the cause of warming. Have they even read a single paper discussing the critical water feedback assumption in climate models? Why would they? It’s not their job.
  5.  Set the bar absurdly high. The abstract has to say “AGW is false” or specifically say that some other cause better explains global warming. This filters out, or counts as “believers”, scores of studies which imply that natural warming is more important, or that the models are exaggerating warming, or find observations that contradict some aspect of anthropogenic global warming, or are just plain cautious. The authors can discuss that in their conclusions, or leave the obvious implications unsaid — it’s easier to get published that way, and besides, abstracts  are strictly limited, usually to 150 or 250 words, so no author is going to waste this precious space. These authors get included as “believers”.

A serious study of consensus would look only at papers aiming to assess the cause of global warming. Even papers on Arctic ice and Mt Kilimanjaro wouldn’t count. It would study the conclusions, not just the abstracts. It would still be profoundly unscientific — as any “consensus” study is — but it might at least raise it above the level of propaganda, having some sociological value. The Powell study is a parody. Ahem. But he is selling a book.

A better study of a consensus would survey scientists themselves instead of guessing what they think, and it wouldn’t just survey “climate scientists” but all scientists.  The Scientific Method is the same no matter what field of science it is applied to. Any study that claims there is a consensus among scientists is being dishonest if it limits its attention to a tiny subgrouping of science. (As if only a secret guild of approved members have received the magic training.) If climate scientists have overwhelming evidence, they’d have no trouble convincing nuclear physicists, materials engineers, industrial chemists, and geologists — yet they are failing dismally.

A thousand holes in the theory is a 99.9% consensus?

From James Powell’s methodology:

2. I looked for clear statements that AGW is false or that some other process better explains the rise in global temperature. I did not count articles that report some discrepancy, such as the growth in Antarctic sea ice for example, but do not use that discrepancy as the basis for claiming that AGW is false. Any theory has discrepancies, observations that the theory cannot yet explain. They provide the next set of research problems. One discrepancy does not falsify a theory.

So one discrepancy does not falsify a theory? Einstein would disagree with that, but what would he know?

“No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”

Albert Einstein

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UK Government cuts green subsidies, investment falls, calls for “more subsidies” rise

That didn’t take long. The recent UK election means the conservative government has the power to get rid of some subsidies for “low carbon”, “green” electricity, and make it easier for oil and gas. Renewable energy companies are feeling the pain, and complaining bitterly. Of course, if they were competitive, they wouldn’t need the subsidies and the stock market would throw money at them. Such is the fear, that there is an emergency summit happening within the green energy sector. “Scottish Renewables has warned the move could put up to £3bn of investment in Scotland at risk.” So $3 billion dollars was placed on a bet that the subsidies would continue, that the voters would not get sick of paying too much, and their bets have failed. I have no sympathy. Anyone playing the subsidy market should have done their homework. With the science shot with holes, the subsidies were always built on vapor. GWPF has all the stories.

The green tax target is going

Tim Ross, The Telegraph: Green energy subsidies spiral out of control

George Osborne to abolish coalition’s green tax target as customers face paying £1.5billion more through their bills to subsidise wind farms, solar panels and biomass plants.

The cost of subsidising new wind farms is spiralling out of control, government sources have privately warned. Officials admitted that so-called “green” energy schemes will require a staggering £9 billion a year in subsidies – paid for by customers – by 2020. This is £1.5 billion more than the maximum limit the coalition had originally planned. The mounting costs will mean every household in the country is forced to pay an estimated £170 a year by the end of the decade to support the renewable electricity schemes that were promoted by the coalition. Tory ministers are said to be “angry” at the scale of the over-running costs. They are blaming the Liberal Democrats who ran the Department for Energy and Climate Change for the past five years for the spectacular failure to control renewable energy programmes. -

How different is UK electricity to the Soviet system?

The UK  government apparently indirectly decides the price of electricity, and they decided that companies “could” charge consumers for their costs of developing green electricity. If electricity were a free market, companies could choose to sell and develop cheap electricity and consumers could choose to buy cheap electricity and not subsidize research they thought was pointless. I’d like to buy the 4c/ kWh coal type of electricity (that’s wholesale, but where is the retail version?). The Lib Dems put in contracts that can’t be changed — pay the patrons and the big-government cheer squad, but don’t let the public choose.

How many UK would families would be happy if a man turned up at their door once a year demanding a cheque for £68 (soon to be £141), to develop expensive electricity generators in the hope of making the weather nicer for their great grandchildren? (And that’s only a part of the green bill.) Taxpayers would revolt.

Under the coalition, ministers decided that investment in new renewable energy developments, such as wind turbines, solar panels and biomass schemes, would be paid for by energy companies, rather than through taxation. Energy firms were allowed to recover the cost of these subsidies from their customers by adding it to household bills.

In order to limit the impact of the green schemes on customers, ministers set a strict cap on the total amount that could be spent in these consumer-funded subsidies for renewable energy. By 2020, the maximum amount to be spent through these subsidies was set at £7.6 billion a year. But new projections from DECC show this cap will be exceeded by a massive 20 per cent, or another £1.5 billion. Official figures showed that environmental levies added £68 to the average household bill last year. By 2020 this had been expected to rise to £141. But the latest DECC figures suggest the true figure will be closer to £170 as costs continue to mount.

Government sources say there is little that Mr Osborne can do because the subsidies have already been agreed under long-term contracts signed by DECC while Liberal Democrat ministers were in charge. – The Telegraph (see link above)

The British Government is also set to scrap the climate change levy exemption and stop money flowing from UK taxpayers to foreign renewable electricity generators. The levy was started in 2001 to try to improve energy efficiency, and the amount was estimated to be GBP 3.90 billion. I think making renewables pay on a level playing field is good, but why have a levy to change the climate at all?

Thanks to the GWPF. See also Renewable Energy Trust Funds Tumble On Osborne Cuts.

Green investment funds in the US are falling as well and asking for more subsidies

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What’s really warming the world — NASA has no idea (Not the Sun, Never the Sun!)

In the twit-world, it’s being called Bloomberg and NASA’s “proof” that man made CO2 is causing global warming.

But it’s just a zombie rehash of the same-old routine I described in How to create a crisis graph in 6 simple steps. It’s all in the art of what you don’t say and the things you leave off the graph. This is a “NASA” graph that reduces everything about the sun to one single temperature. As if the magneto-nuclear-dynamo 1.3 million times the volume of the Earth would have a weather report that just read “still hot”. Nothing to see here…

Want to scare people with graphs?

  1. Pretend your climate models work. Ignore the missing hot spot, the pause, the record antarctic sea-ice, the lack of accelerating seas, and the utter failure of climate models to model anything before the last 150 years, as well as stuff like “rain[1]“, “ drought [2]” and “humidity[3]“.
  2. Include all the factors you can think of that don’t explain the latest bump in the squiggly line.
  3. Ignore all the factors that might like cosmic rays, solar wind, solar magnetic effects, solar spectrum cycles, lunar effects on our atmosphere, and who knows how many other potential factors.
  4. Draw sophisticated trendy-sparse-graphs with a nice “flash” rolling action.
  5. Pretend that many of those same great scientists and engineers are not weeping. The largest astronomical body in our solar system has been reduced to a one line, single temperature. Forget magnetic flux ropes, solar weather, sun spots and jet streams. Who cares about polar fields, particle flow and proton storms. We’ve barely begun to understand the sun, but we Know These Things Don’t Cause Climate Change (because the models say so).
NASA, GISS, Global Waming, climate models, temperature, cause,


Sun, Graph, Temperature, Global Warming, climate models, 2015

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Climate scientists: More scared of an inquiry into the science than they are of climate change

What’s more terrifying to a climate scientist than “2 degrees” of warming? Answer: Half a degree of hard questions.

Australian climate scientists don’t complain at all when the UN says it wants to redirect $89 Trillion in a quest to change the climate. But they are suddenly all concerned that the Australian Government might waste 0.0001% investigating the science. A disaster!  Since when were climate scientists concerned about wasting public money? Since never.

A group of thirteen scientists, who’ve personally achieved little in the way of scientific advances, have written to Dennis Jensen and Chris Back offering to brief them on the “latest science”, afraid the skeptics might launch an inquiry into the science.  The ABC calls them “prominent”: Climate change: Scientists warn sceptic MPs Dennis Jensen, Chris Back against inquiry into evidence of human influence.

Isn’t the scientific evidence the most important thing?

Surveys show half of the Australian public are skeptical — unconvinced by their claims that coal will cause a climate crisis or that solar panels can stop the storms. Right now, if the climate is headed for a disaster, nothing is more important than convincing the public. Instead, the climate scientists keep repeating that the debate is over, “trust us”, and “don’t ask questions”. But the debate never happened, the public don’t trust them, and we have many many questions — and they are not going away.

In a Reuters poll, 57% of people said they don’t think UN Climate Scientists can speak with authority on climate. Some scientists keep repeating that there is a consensus, but that spin isn’t working. More of the same isn’t going to change that. It’s time for a real debate.

If the evidence was overwhelming, 95% certain, the climate scientists would welcome the attention. But it’s a gambit they played ten years ago, and the game is over. Skeptics know the case for a crisis will fall over with the merest honest inspection. The unskeptical scientists know it too — that’s why they are so afraid the Coalition might really call their bluff and demand real answers.

The laws of physics are the same in every field

If there is a climate crisis, real scientists would have no trouble convincing other scientists from other fields, but that’s not what we are seeing. Increasingly scientists from other branches of science are protesting, and in their thousands. They are fed up at the way the scientific method is being abused and milked for press attention. There is no consensus amongst scientists – only among certified “climate” scientists, paid by government. Almost half  of meteorologists are skeptics (crikey!), survey after survey shows that two-thirds of geoscientists and engineers are skeptics, and most readers of skeptical blogs (who chose to respond to surveys and list their qualifications in  comments) have hard science degrees. Dan Kahan conducted a survey and found people who knew more about maths and science were more likely to be skeptical. In other words, skeptics were better informed about science. See the  qualifications of 400 skeptics here.

How weak is their scientific position?

Dennis Jensen pointed out 97% of models did not predict “the Pause”. So Professor Hoegh-Guldberg simply denied there is a pause. (Hello? What about those satellites? Ignoring most of the big climate temperature data sets?) Probably the only paper in Professor Hoegh-Guldberg’s arsenal is the recent Karl et al one, which ignored the best ocean gauges and used a wildly uncertain estimate to blend two bad data sets together. What’s the certainty? The data was corrected with a figure where the error was 17 times larger than the correction: 0.12 ± 1.7°C. See, exotic adventures in global climate data to unfind “the Pause”. They must be kidding.

Hoegh-Guldberg says 18 years of a global temperature pause is “short term”:

But Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said that was a short-term perspective.

“When you look at the literature, there’s been no hiatus,” he said.

“There’s random variability around the upward signal of temperature.

“It’s just like the stock market. If you look at that it’s going up and down but it’ll have a trend — that trend is what we’re watching.

“[It's] not whether it’s going up or down over a period of 10 years — it’s a long-term signal.”

18 years. 10 years, what’s the difference? It’s only math. ;- )

And oh, yes, please, Hoegh-Guldberg, let’s look at the long term. How many of the IPCC favourite climate models “predicted” the medieval warm period? How many can model the holocene optimum? None and zero. None of their models understand the climate.

M.P.s who understand science are harder to fool

Senator Chris Back is trained in veterinary science. Dennis Jensen has a PhD in physics. Both are happy to listen to the “experts”, but neither will be convinced by weak claims of “consensus”.

Mr Jensen said he was willing to meet the scientists to hear their views.

“I’m open to being convinced but the data and the evidence that I’ve seen [on climate change] thus far certainly I don’t find compelling,” he said.

He claimed that pointing to a scientific consensus on climate science “indicates your argument is weak”.

“When is the last time you heard the consensus of the world scientists is that the earth is roughly spherical?” he said.

“You get the appeal to consensus when the data and the evidence is weak and it’s an appeal to authority rather than examining the data and the evidence.”

Senator Back said he was happy to meet the scientists.

As “a person with a scientific background”, Senator Back said he was concerned by claims that “the science is in and no-one should challenge it”. He is trained as a veterinarian and does not have expertise in climate science.

In response to their concerns, the best the experts can offer is “trust us”

“Exhaustive” and “experts” are just words, not evidence:

Professor Peter Newman, a signatory to the letter and a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the panel’s research was an “exhaustive” process.

He said the political debate around climate change action was legitimate but ”frustrating”.

Professor Newman said MPs should “just deal with the politics, that’s their job”, adding “the scientists have done their job”.

Professor Hughes said MPs who cast doubt on the science of global warming were trying to delay political progress on the issue.



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Forest fires may produce as much CO2 as half of all fossil fuels burned

Globally, fires have been overlooked as a key player in the global CO2 cycle. Tom Quirk has dug up some studies showing that CO2 emissions from fires can be as high as half of the total emissions from human fossil fuel use.

Smoke from fires over Indonesia, and Borneo, Satellite, NASA, 1997

“In October and November 1997, the haze from fires in Indonesia spread as far the Philippines to the north, Sri Lanka to the west, and northern Australia to the south. In the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo, there was a pollution index reading of 860.” | Annette Gartland

Peat deposits can be an extraordinary 20 metres thick. In 1997, a fire consumed 8,000 square kilometers of mostly peatland in Borneo. Researchers estimated 0.2 Gt of carbon were released in this one area that year, and that carbon emissions from fires across Indonesia in 1997 emitted between 0.8 and 2.5 Gt — or “13 to 40%” of the size of global human fossil fuel emissions.[1] Obviously uncertainties are large, but so are the numbers. It all makes the idea of a “carbon market” pretty meaningless: the largest players in this market can’t play and don’t pay. In carbon accounting, fires are “an act of God” (non-anthropogenic), and are considered neutral because the trees will grow back. But humans play a role in fire management and the regrowth…

Other researchers, der Werf et al 2004, looked at fires around the world during the El Nino year and estimated that 2.1 Gt of carbon was released — which explained 66% ± 24% of the extra CO2 emitted globally that year.[2] Bowman et al estimate fires produced emissions around 50% of the size of human emissions.[3] Murry Salby argues that ocean temperatures drive CO2 levels and the warmth of the El Nino in 1997 released more CO2, but here a lot of the extra CO2 released that year looks like it comes from fires.

To put all this in perspective, total human emissions of carbon in a year is about 8 to 10 Gt. Australian emissions are a mere 100 mt*. Indonesia’s are 150 mt, while China’s are 2.5 Gt and increasing by 100mt each year. China is adding emissions equivalent to the entire Australian output each year. India puts out 500 mt, increasing by 50 mt each year. Shaving a mere 5% of the Australian output which is a mere 1.16% of the total output, seems as futile as it gets. How much should we pay?

— Jo

We didn’t start the fire   (with thanks to Billy Joel)

The southern hemisphere is the innocent hemisphere in the rise in atmospheric CO2.

Map, Global fires, pyrogeography on Earth

This statement can be seen by looking at the estimates of fossil fuel emissions from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), an agency of the US government.

Fossil Fuel emissions, graph, latitiude

For the year 2010 CDIAC estimates 8,900 million tonnes of carbon (Mt C) in CO2 was produced world wide. Only 406 Mt C was produced in the Southern Hemisphere below a latitude of 120S. This is only 4.7% of the total global emissions.

carbon emissions in the Southern Hemisphere, graph, longitude

These emissions are spread across three continents with Australia being the smallest continental contributor. So to put this in perspective, the annual increase of fossil fuel emissions from China is equal to Australia’s total annual emissions while the annual increase from Indian fossil fuel emissions is half of Australia’s total emissions.


Fossil fuel emissions Mt C

% of global total

South Africa






New Zealand



South America






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High pressure propaganda: Greens using children to write activist letters in school

Gary Johns (former Labor Minister in the Keating Government) writes in The Australian that children are being dished up green speakers at school, asked to write letters about “their thoughts” to politicians, and taking letters home to parents seeking their permission to join the campaign which is run by a volunteer for The Greens. The children were offered sample activist letters to copy.

Greens infiltrate the classroom

I received a letter this week that had been sent to the parent of a 10-year-old schoolboy and signed by the deputy principal of Cottesloe Primary School, Perth. The letter requested her permission to send a letter, allegedly written by her son, to Julie Bishop regarding the UN climate talks.

The activist site is Curtin’s CASE: Climate Action for a Safe Environment. Curtin refers to the electorate (not the university). The site has sample letters to ask Julie Bishop to get climate action and change the weather. The speaker at schools was Dr Chilla Bullbeck, who was “chair of women’s studies at ­the University of Adelaide until 2008 but is now a full-time “volunteer” for the Greens in Western Australia.” She claims “Curtin’s CASE is not a political organisation, but admits “our project does appeal to Greens members and supporters”.

The letter to parents directs them to the campaign website where a standard letter is ready and waiting.

“Dear Julie Bishop,

My name is … and I am an ­average … student … please help this goal of mine (to stop global warming) become yours too ­because we can make a difference for Australia” (emphasis added).

Craft a persuasive letter using their thoughts, describing their goal? This is a deception. This is high-pressure propaganda and it is taking place in primary schools right now.

Johns has some very good questions:

A representative of a political party was allowed into the classroom to push the party’s agenda on young children and to use them to write letters to achieve the party’s goals. Were other ­voices heard?

Were children aware that if the world decides to cut the output of carbon dioxide emissions by denying cheap energy-dense sources they are condemning ­millions to an early death through poverty?

This exercise in high-pressure manipulation of 10-year-olds took place a few suburbs from the University of Western Australia where a posse of ignorant ­academics and students ran Bjorn Lomborg out of town.

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Weekend Unthreaded

… Let it rip…

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