JoNova

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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The Skeptics Handbook II

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GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Company stops Ebola, Bureaucracy puts it on a plane

Compare the response of The Firestone Rubber Plantation in Liberia to the Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

The rubber plantation has 8,000 workers with 71,000 dependents. It  is an hour north-east of Monrovia, surrounded by Ebola outbreaks. The virus arrived on the plantation in March. Knowing that the UN and the Liberian government were not going to save them, the managers sat around a rubber tree and googled “Ebola” and learned on the run instead. They turned shipping containers into isolation units, trucks into ambulances, and chemical cleaning suits into “haz-mat” gear. They trained cleaners, and teachers, they blocked visitors, and over the next five months dealt with 71 infections, but by early October were clear of the virus. There were only 17 survivors (the same 70% mortality rate as elsewhere). But without good management, there could have been so many more deaths.

In contrast, the nanny-state takes a good brain and stops it thinking. In Texas,  trained health professionals were caught unprepared, following inadequate protocols they assumed were good enough, and even risking their own lives. A  nurse who cared for a dying Ebola patient — and knew how bad Ebola could be — still needed to phone someone to [...]

Ebola — time for action

I trained in microbiology so I’ve watched the Ebola situation unfold with quiet dread.  When my favourite lecturer was asked what was worst of the worst infectious epidemics he could imagine, he responded that the sum of all fears would be a cross between Ebola and Newcastle’s disease. It would be a highly fatal hemorrhagic disease, combined with a highly contagious virus spread by birds. It’s time to talk of the dark dark possibility that one mutation could bring — the aerosolization of Ebola.

As long as this Filovirus stays in its current form, spread only through direct contact with an infected and obviously ill person, we have a chance to limit the spread. Quarantine is effective. If it goes airborne, the task becomes like preventing the flu, but without clinically tested vaccines, in a totally unprotected population, and with a 60% fatality rate. This is the nuclear option.

The Ebola virus has several different forms, and at least in animal studies, it has “gone airborne” before. Theoretically, it’s an odds game. The more times the virus is copied — the better the odds are that the right mutation will occur. To be brutally blunt, every infected person is another [...]

EU to change climate with hair dryers, kettles, lawn mowers

You, foolish plebian, thought that a hair dryer was for drying hair. Not so. The purpose of a hair dryer is to change the climate. Let’s stop the storms by slow-mowing the lawn. That sort of thing…

Thus and verily has the EU announced that high-power appliances may now be banned.

[Telegraph]

EU to ban high-energy hair dryers, smartphones and kettles

European Union to ban dozens of high-wattage household electrical appliances in follow-up to controversial ban on powerful vacuum cleaners

A study ordered by the European Commission, currently in draft form, has identified up to 30 electrical appliances including lawn mowers, smart phones and kettles that could be covered by the EU’s Ecodesign directive outlawing high-wattage devices.

Serfs in the EU will probably spend longer drying their hair, and more time waiting for the kettle to boil  in a quest to produce slightly less CO2. This is in the hope that less CO2 might cool a world that hasn’t really warmed for a decade and a half. It’s a case of not so much blow-drying, and more slow-drying. Likewise, stupid punters may wonder how a lower power kettle can reduce emissions. The laws of [...]

EU bans good vacuum cleaners — next big kettles, hot irons?

The Climate Police are coming.

In order to cool the global climate, the European Commission has decided, with infinite wisdom, that companies shall no longer be allowed to make or import vacuums with motors above 1600 watts — which is more than half of the vacuums on the market. These are climate-dangerous machines. They couldn’t just put a health warning with pics of drowning polar bears on the 2200W ones. They must be Verboten! The new rules start on September 1st. I’m sure if they could, they’d arrange a buy-back and amnesty program for high powered vacuums too.

In EUspeak, vacuums are about to get better! Apparently, they will use less energy, save money and pick up more dust too, all that was needed was regulation. (Why didn’t they think of it before?)

The Telegraph

Consumers warned to “act quickly” before top-rated powerful vacuum cleaners sell out forever

The European Commission claims that its new rules, which are intended to help tackle climate change by cutting Europe’s energy usage, will mean consumers “get better vacuum cleaners than ever before”.

The first vacuum was made in 1860. So after 150 years of fine tuning vacuum motors, at last the gifted bureaucrat [...]

Outgoing UK Environment Minister says green groups are profiteering anti-capitalist agit-prop

Some extraordinary statements from Owen Paterson, the man who was the UK Environment Secretary until a week ago. This is baking hot. Paterson also draws attention to the way big-goverment has fed big-government lobbyists 150 million euros since 2007. Can we get this man to Australia? — Jo

I’m proud of standing up to the green lobby

The Telegraph UK I leave the post with great misgivings about the power and irresponsibility of – to coin a phrase – the Green Blob.

By this I mean the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape. This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interests of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely.

Local conservationists on the ground do wonderful work to protect and improve wild landscapes, as do farmers, rural businesses and ordinary people. They are a world away from the highly paid globe-trotters of the Green Blob who besieged me with [...]

Thanks to Green schemes Queensland dumps gas for coal

Green Fairy Gods of Economic Management

Another unintended consequence of policies to control the climate. Who would have guessed? Laws aimed to disrupt the energy market, disrupted the energy market. Just like Germany, parts of Australia are now dumping expensive gas, resurrecting old coal burners, and voila: The Fairy Gods of Economics tinker — and get the opposite of what they intended.

Here’s the chain of events as best as I can figure. The greener-governments raised the cost of all electricity, but tried to slap an advantage on some forms at the expense of others. The catch is that there is just not enough alternate energy to go around.

More projects used gas, partly due to other state based green schemes like the Gas Electricity Scheme of Queensland. So gas demand rose and gas became more expensive. At the same time, those who owned gas found that export markets will pay more for gas for other uses. So it didn’t make sense to keep the gas for the power-stations here when they could sell it for a greater profit elsewhere. Meanwhile, other forces were also at play. The Green drive created a glut in fickle solar and wind power. [...]

None of these people could *possibly* have a reason to like Big-Government

It goes without saying that all of these folk could just as easily prefer a sensible, small spending government that was frugal with taxpayer funds. Right?

The Australian finally gets the information on the ABC salaries: “ABC spares no expense”

 

Mark Scott | $678,940 Tony Jones | $355,789 Juanita Phillips | $316,454 Quentin Dempster | $291,505 Richard Glover | $290,000 Jon Faine | $285,249 Leigh Sales | $280,400 Barrie Cassidy | $243,478 “The ABC received $1.03 billion of taxpayer funds last financial year, of which $465 million was spent on wages, superannuation and other entitlements.”

The culture is obvious. The ABC show their respect for the taxpayer… by fighting doggedly for years in court to hide the details of their taxpayer funded salaries from legitimate FOI’s. Now that they’ve been leaked, Mark Scott has apologized to the public his staff and promises an investigation into how it happened. (Imagine taxpayers finding out how their money was spent!)

Remember Richard Glover? He gets paid $290,000 for insight like this:

“Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies”. – June 6, 2011

It’s not like you can pick up that kind of ill-informed [...]

US Schools teach kids high tech ways to waste money

Steve Goreham highlights a school program which spends 30,000 dollars to save 300. The program is called “Wise” and hopes to change global weather.

Presumably with such profligate wastage, delusional ambition, and little practical purpose, it will breed future political leaders.   — Jo

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US citizens pay for “solar school” foolishness

By Steve Goreham

Originally published in The Washington Times

Solar systems are being installed at hundreds of schools across the United States. Educators use solar panels to teach students about the “miracle” of energy sourced from the sun. But a closer look at these projects shows poor economics and a big bill for citizens.

Earlier this month, the National Resources Defense Fund (NRDC) launched its “Solar Schools” campaign, an effort to raise $54,000 to help “three to five to-be-determined schools move forward with solar rooftop projects.” The NRDC wants to “help every school in the country go solar.” The campaign uses a cute video featuring kids talking about how we’re “polluting the Earth with gas and coal” and how we can save the planet with solar.

[...]

The price of moral-vanity: A catalogue of Green economic disaster unfolds across Europe

The real cost of moral-vanity, of name-calling, poor reasoning, selecting one’s evidence, and the triumph of doing things because they “feel-good” rather than because of the cold hard numbers, is measured in the trillions. This disaster was entirely foreseeable, totally predictable, and completely unnecessary.

Thanks to Benny Peiser and The Australian, the utter folly is laid bare.

AS country after country abandons, curtails or reneges on once-generous support for renewable energy, Europe is beginning to realise that its green energy strategy is dying on the vine. Green dreams are giving way to hard economic realities.

Slowly but gradually, Europe is awakening to a green energy crisis, an economic and political debacle that is entirely self-inflicted.

The media is finally starting to do what it should have done ten years ago:

A study by British public relations consultancy CCGroup analysed 138 articles about renewables published during July last year in the five most widely circulated British national newspapers: The Sun, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, which enjoy a combined daily circulation of about 6.5 million.

“The analysis revealed a number of trends in the reporting of [...]

Australian emissions reductions target is undone by one week in China

Here’s a graph showing something about Australian, Chinese and Indian emissions (thanks to Tom Quirk). At a glance you might think we are up there with the best of them (doing our bit to fertilize the flora of the planet, and to regreen the deserts). Alas, the Australian tally (the green triangles) represents the total emissions of Australia. The lines depicting Chinese and Indian emissions just show their annual increases.

Chinese annual increases in emissions are larger than the entire Australian output. India is not too far behind.

UPDATE: TonyfromOz points out the Y-axis scale  is missing three zero’s. Data source: CDIAC (Thanks Anton).

It appears the new coal fired power stations and cars coming on line in the breakneck-evolution-of-China produced twice the emissions of the entire continent of Australia.

Remember our aim to reduce our national output by 5% or so by 2020. Thanks to the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Fund, the Remote Indigenous Energy Program, the Low Income Energy Efficiency Program, the Living Greener program, the Regional Natural Resource Management Planning, the Light Vehicle CO2 Emissions Standards, the Household Assistance Package, and not to mention another 36 programs I could have listed as well as [...]