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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Globally 91% of wars have nothing to do with climate change

Climate change causes war (maybe) and meaningless statistics (definitely)

One day when you grow up, children, you too can be a research scientist who writes papers that tells the world something banally obvious — like, say, that natural disasters make conflict more likely.

Who, exactly, thought natural disasters brought peace?

I don’t think the journalist who wrote this next paragraph asked himself what it means (if anything):

Globally, there was a nine per cent coincidence rate between the outbreak of armed conflicts and natural disasters like droughts and heatwaves. But, in countries that were deeply divided along ethnic lines, this rose to about 23 per cent.

I suspect it means not much (define “coincident”), but if it did, it implies that globally, 91% of wars don’t coincide with natural disasters.

If there is a real message here, it appears to be that ethnic divisions cause wars:

Dr Jonathan Donges, who co-wrote the paper about the study, said: “We’ve been surprised by the extent that results for ethnic fractionalised countries stick out, compared to other country features such as conflict history, poverty, or inequality.


Which countries will survive climate change?

Great news for Australians, Scandinavias, Greenlanders, Poms, and New Zealanders:  all the headlines about how your home will be the hardest hit were wrong. Instead, your real estate will be the most valuable on Earth and everyone will want to visit you.

Thank The Guardian for its restrained headline:  Countries most and least likely to survive the effects of climate change . Study source: Diply

I expect you will all be relieved. Especially after the fear you felt reading “hardest hit” headlines like these:

“Rural Australians hardest hit by climate change”

“Sydney’s urban areas to be hit hardest by global warming”

“Predictions Australia will be hardest hit by climate change”

Greenland hardest hit by climate change

“…climate change is likely to have the strongest impact on Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden.”

“Climate change is faster and more severe in the Arctic than in most of the rest of the world”

– Thanks to ClimateChangePredictions  and Tom Nelson’s hardest hit list.

The original map on Diply also has a “least at risk” category, helpfully colored black and applied to no [...]

Matt Ridley: Africa Needs To Be Rich – Rather Than Green

Matt Ridley: Africa Needs To Be Rich – Rather Than Green Some people pretend to care about the worlds poor and how they will be affected by a hypothetical climate shift decades in the future. But African’s don’t want climate action as much as they probably want food, fridges and free markets. No electricity means indoor smog and real pollution coming to your kitchen. How many dead Africans is enough to appease the climate Gods? It’s good to see Australia and Japan may help build some coal fired plants in Africa.

The Times UK (see also Matt Ridley’s Blog)

A survey of more than two million  Africans finds that climate change comes dead last of 16 concerns they were asked about.

OK, It’s an internet survey. But who would take cold meals and cholera now so their great grandchildren live in a world a tenth of a degree cooler?

Just to get sub-Saharan electricity consumption up to the levels of South Africa or Bulgaria would mean adding about 1,000 gigawatts of capacity, the installation of which would cost at least £1 trillion. Yet the greens want Africans to hold back on the cheapest form [...]

Niger, Africa where 17 million people use less electricity than Dubbo, NSW

Niger, Africa, is considering building a new small coal fired power station. Greenpeace have protested before at coal power stations in Africa. But how compassionate are those who don’t want Africa to use cheap coal fired power (like, say, professors at western universities?) TonyfromOz puts the issue in perspective. I knew much of Africa was very very poor, but this rather lays the dismal extent out before us. Mali, a nation of 15 million people produces the same amount of electricity as the small town of Dubbo, NSW. Niger, with 17 million, produces even less. All up, there are 23 nations in Africa that each produce less electricity than Dubbo. If we combine them, the 142 million people in those 23 nations are using the same amount of electricity as Adelaide in Australia (which has about 1.1 million people). Stark.

Perhaps we could ask Niger if they’d like to help reduce global temperatures by 0.0 degrees, or if they would rather save money and have electricity that works at night instead?   — Jo

Guest Post – TonyfromOz

Niger, Africa

Recently, a new coal fired power plant was proposed for the country of Niger in [...]

The Urban Heat Island effect: Could Africa be more affected than the US?

The mystery: We know when we drive through a city that temperatures warm from the fringe to the middle. We know UHI is real, but how much does it affect the official records? Is a 2010 city 0.3 K hotter than a 1960 city? How would we know?

Frank Lansner has come up with a way that might approximate the UHI effect — very roughly. It’s well known that UHI gets bigger as cities grow, but the devil is in the detail. Frank argues that it’s not just the size of the city that matters, but it’s growth rate.

The USA is full of large cities, but there is not much difference between the trend in satellites and ground stations there. Frank’s approach could explain this — most of the growth in human population has come in regions like Africa, not the USA.

He figured that if we compare satellite records to ground stations and see if there is a divergence, we might be able to see an indicator of UHI. The info coming out of satellites ought not be affected as populations expand, but the ground stations are often near population centres and they gradually get surrounded with [...]

The urbanising effect even in wildest Africa

Image thanks to Navy’s Solant Amity I Cruise 1960

All that wilderness, and where did they put the temperature sensors? Near a concrete slab. These guys aren’t even trying to be serious.

Talk about a gorgeous view. This jaw-dropping wilderness is also the site of one of the 20 GAWS (Global Atmosphere Watch Station, for the WMO) which tracks stuff like CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. There’s a temperature station there too, and Tim Wood helpfully sent me up-to-date pictures.

You might wonder, at such an important site and among the wilderness, how could anyone find a place to put a temperature sensor that wasn’t a Class I, top notch siting? It was all too easy. By the looks of this photo (below), it might just qualify as a Class 4, since there a large brick or concrete and metal structure… less than 10 meters away. (For info on classifications: Surface Stations Project*, NOAA Site information here.)

Tim W writes:

“As you can see from the pictures, if this is what passes for a world class station then….

Note the gazillion undeveloped hectares in the background that would be more suitable. But that [...]