A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Australian Environment Conference Oct 20 2012



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

What the CSIRO State of the Climate report forgot to tell you

The CSIRO decided to leave out some information about the state of our climate in their  State of the Climate Report CSIRO.

CSIRO published these “Fast Facts” in bold. I’m publishing the things they didn’t say, but could have, in points in between.

Fast Facts from the CSIRO and BOM “Australia’s climate has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910, and the frequency of extreme weather has changed, with more extreme heat and fewer cool extremes.” The CSIRO-BOM team could have said: Scientifically, extreme weather measures are lousy indicators. They’re noisy and not very meaningful. They are however useful for getting newspaper headlines. It depends on what your aim is… Australia’s had extreme hot days for as long as we’ve been measuring the temperature. Charles Sturt recorded 53C in 1828 which seems fairly extreme. Thomas Mitchell did it too in 1845 and are many others (see the map below, check Trove, ask the BOM — no don’t ask the BOM). The records prior to 1910 seem to have gone down the memory hole, but if the BOM and CSIRO were trying to give Australians a true sense of the state of our climate perhaps Australians might like to know that [...]

Get Headlines! How to find a heatwave in five easy steps

Heatwaves have become a publicity tool. Far from there being a clear trend in Australian heatwaves, Geoff Sherrington shows that it’s also legitimate to claim heatwaves were worse 80 – 100 years ago in Adelaide and Melbourne and things are getting better. Those officials who cherrypick their claims might be technically correct, but it’s outrageously deceitful and unscientific at the same time.

Just how hard is it to get a record heatwave? It’s so easy that if it’s summer in Australia, it’s hard not to set a record. That’s because heatwaves come in so many flavors  –  there are seven capital cities which can all have 3 day, 4 day, 5 day or 6 day heatwaves. Then there are the heatwaves over 40C, or over 38 C, or over 35C… already that makes 84 flavours of wave. If a hot spell doesn’t break one type of wave, it could easily break another. Then there is the pre-heatwave, and there would be another 84 types of heatwaves that we haven’t had, but might get, you never know. You might think I’m kidding, but pre-heatwaves get headlines already:

“More Canberra heatwaves forecast”

“A heatwave could return to Canberra next month, [...]

Hottest summer record in Australia? Not so, says UAH satellite data

There are probably only ten people in Australia who haven’t heard it was the Hottest Ever, Record Summer Downunder. And they were probably born yesterday.

Summer here was so scorchingly awful it was Angry. But a funny thing happened on the orbit overhead. Check out the UAH satellite data on summers since the UAH records began.  The graph below (thanks to Ken) is the temperature data from the NASA satellites, processed by UAH (University of Alabama in Huntsville). Strangely there is a disparity between what the satellites recorded and the BOM.

The satellite data shows that the summer of 2012-2013 was close to ordinary, compared with the entire satellite record going back to 1979. Not a record. Not even extreme?

According to UAH satellite measurements summer in early 2013 was not a record. Not even close.

The graph data comes thanks to John Christy, Director, Earth System Science Center, Distinguished Professor, Atmospheric Science University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama State Climatologist and Roy Spencer. It was graphed by Ken Stewart at KensKingdom, and inspired by Tom Quirk at Quadrant. I was very happy to connect them this weekend. The data cover “average lower troposphere temperature anomalies for land grids [...]

Mystery black-box method used to make *all new* Australian “hottest” ever records

There were not many long term sites (in black dots) in the centre of Australia in 1930.

This summer the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) invented a whole new metric to measure average national heat, which might be all very well except no-one (other than the BOM) seems to know what it is.

On January 7th the BOM claimed Australia set a new “average maximum daily temperature record”. Now the headlines are about the “hottest” Australian summer.

With both records, no one outside the BOM team has access to the methods or data. This post is about the new “daily” temperature of Australia used to declare Jan 7th was a record, but the same point applies to the “hottest summer” records, even though they may be a different data set. Where is the data? Where are the methods?

Is the BOM a science agency or a PR bureau?

The January 7th heatwave supposedly broke all previous “daily” records in this category — a dubious honor since no-one can remember any records like it.

It’s a bit like winning the Side-Jump. It’s not an event anyone knew was on until the medal ceremony. Worse, no one knows how the [...]

Not the hottest ever summer for most Australians in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Not “extreme” heatwaves either.

Despite the wild hype about records being broken, and how hot this summer has “felt” for most Australians there have been many hotter summers, and for millions of people this summer was not remarkable at all.

The BOM is planting the unscientific suggestion it “felt warm” when thermometers in most major centres tell us it was just summer. The population of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne combined is almost 11 million. Nearly 50% of all Australians experienced an average to above average summer, but none of them experienced an extreme summer or a record hot season.

Since there are 100 different ways of measuring a “record”, could it be the BOM is cherry picking whatever record it can find, but ignoring all the non-records, the average measurements, and the ordinary heat?

Melbourne, hot but not extreme

In Melbourne there have been nine hotter summers, and two of those were more than a century ago. Those summers weren’t just a bit hotter. It was nearly a whole degree hotter (as an average of maximum summer temperatures) in 1898 and 1951.

In Melbourne this summer qualifies as the tenth hottest. It was far hotter in 1898, 1951, 1981, and 2001


Much [...]

Australia – was hot and is hot. So what? This is not an unusual heatwave

The media are in overdrive, making out that “the extreme heat is the new normal” in Australia. The Great Australian Heatwave of January 2013 didn’t push the mercury above 50C at any weather station in Australia, yet it’s been 50C (122F) and hotter in many inland towns across Australia over the past century. See how many are in the late 1800′s and early to mid 1900′s. You can’t blame those high records on man made global warming.  [feel free to post some old records of your own and the source reference we can check and we will update the map]

 Did CO2 cause extreme heat in the 1820′s?

In explorer Charles Sturt’s time it was so hot that thermometers exploded. Was this Australia’s hottest day all the way back in 1828? It was 122F or 53.9C! Naturally it is not a BOM-registered-record (the BOM did not exist then). Nonetheless, Charles Sturt was engaged to explore the nation and given careful instructions to take accurate readings of the climate. Yes, inadequate thermometer shading may have exaggerated the maximum by 1C, 2C, maybe even 3C, but at 50.9C it would still have been considerably hotter than anywhere in January 2013.

Even that [...]

Don’t mention the Peer Review! New Zealand’s NIWA bury the Australian review

The Australians must have said something awful.

In the never ending quest to hide information that the taxpayer paid for, the New Zealand trial of skeptics vs alarmists is rising to new heights.

This is a legal case asking for discovery of documents, which is much harder to dodge than a simple FOI. Yet NIWA are putting in an Olympic effort to hide what the Australian BOM (their allies?) have said about their work.

The bottom line is that the NIWA team peer reviewed Australia’s new ACORN temperature set and endorsed it as being “worlds best practice” which (judging by what we’ve seen) it clearly is. What a damning review. The NIWA practice is so bad, that even the Australian BOM can’t return the favor and pretend to say something good about it.

NIWA (New Zealand’s National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research) is the official New Zealand organization responsible for climate pronouncements. They pronounced that the country had warmed almost 1°C during the twentieth century, but, oh dear, when skeptics looked, the raw data showed a rise of only 0.23°C  in the same time period. And in the full record, the trend was only a  0.06°C per century since [...]

Muller-the-pretend-skeptic makes three claims. He’s half right on one.

Almost all the coverage of the Muller and BEST results confounds three different points, is poorly researched and mixes up cause and effect. Richard Muller is shamelessly promoting himself as something he is not, and his conclusions are nonsense on stilts that defy rational explanation.

Everyone knows hot air rises off concrete, yet scores of people get befuddled by statistics. The maths-talk is irrelevant. If your analysis tells you that thermometers next to combustion engines and industrial exhaust vents is recording global warming — your analysis is bunk, and we don’t need a peer reviewed paper to say so.

Muller’s three claims:

He’s a converted skeptic. (Naked, demonstrably wrong, PR.) The world has warmed by 0.3C/decade. (He’s half right — he’s only exaggerating 100%.) That it’s mostly due to man-made emissions. (Baseless speculation.)

As far as public policies go the only point that matters is 3, but most of the conversation is about 1 and 2. Worse, most journalists and many so-called scientists think evidence for warming is the same as evidence that coal fired power stations did it. How unscientific.

We need to deal with each claim separately.

1. He’s a converted skeptic. No he’s a dishonest alarmist. [...]

NEWS: New legal approach — consumer protection laws may protect citizens against misleading BOM statements

We know there is something wrong when we pay public servants to serve us, and they provide us with temperature records that are not the same as the original data, but they won’t explain why they adjusted them. We know the system is rotten when the inexplicable adjustments are used as an excuse to take even more money. We’ve tried FOI to get the information, but they ignore it. We’ve asked the National Audit Office to audit the records, but the people who adjusted the records are essentially the same ones who control them, so they just changed the records again, and said the audit request applied to a set they did not use now.

Today we announce a new approach –  Anthony Cox and others are pursuing the legal option. It’s a creative strategy  — he‘s approaching this through consumer protection laws.

Is there a chance consumers could be misled by reports that don’t include the uncertainties? We think so. – -Jo


Guest Post: Anthony Cox — Legal Action Against AGW

Image: Wikimedia

In New Zealand there is an ongoing legal action against the government producer [...]

Threat of ANAO Audit means Australia’s BOM throws out temperature set, starts again, gets same results

Joanne Nova and Ken Stewart

A team of independent auditors, bloggers and scientists went through the the BOM “High Quality” (HQ) dataset and found significant errors, omissions and inexplicable adjustments. The team and Senator Cory Bernardi put in a Parliamentary request to get our Australian National Audit Office to reassess the BOM records. In response, the BOM, clearly afraid of getting audited, and still not providing all the data, code and explanations that were needed, decided to toss out the old so called High Quality (HQ) record, and start again. The old HQ increased the trends by 40% nationally, and 70% in the cities.

So goodbye “HQ”, hello “ACORN”. End result? Much the same.

That meant the ANAO could avoid an audit, since the BOM had changed data-sets, the point of auditing the old set was moot.

For me, this version is so much worse than the previous one. In the HQ data set the errors could have been inadvertent, but now we’ve pointed out the flaws, there can be no excuses for getting it wrong. Instead of fixing the flaws (and thanking the volunteers), it’s almost as if they’ve gone out of their way [...]

Australian temperature records shoddy, inaccurate, unreliable. Surprise!

The BOM say their temperature records are high quality. An independent audit team has just produced a report showing that as many as 85 -95% of all Australian sites in the pre-Celsius era (before 1972) did not comply with the BOM’s own stipulations. The audit shows 20-30% of all the measurements back then were rounded or possibly truncated. Even modern electronic equipment was at times, so faulty and unmonitored that one station rounded all the readings for nearly 10 years! These sloppy errors may have created an artificial warming trend. The BOM are issuing pronouncements of trends to two decimal places like this one  in the BOM’s Annual Climate Summary 2011 of “0.52 °C above average”  yet relying on patchy data that did not meet its own compliance standards around half the time.  It’s doubtful they can justify one decimal place, let alone two?

We need a professional audit.


A team of independent engineers, scientists, statisticians and data analysts (brought together by the joannenova blog) has been going through the Australia Bureau of Meteorology records (BOM). They’ve audited some 8.5 million daily observations across 237 High Quality and other close sites in Australia. Shockingly, while [...]

Could the Australian BOM get it more wrong?

Warwick Hughes has spotted a neat trifecta: whether it be rain, maximums or minimums, the  BOM gets it wrong.

For this spring the Australian BOM predicted it would be dry and warm, instead we got very wet and quite cold.  The models are so bad on a regional basis, it’s uncannily like they are almost useful… if they call things “dry”, expect “wet”.

On August 24 the Australian BOM had pretty much no idea that any unusual wetness was headed their way. Toss a coin, 50:50, yes or no. Spring 2010 was going to be “average”, except in SW Western Australia where they claimed “a wetter than normal spring is favoured.” What follows were 100 year floods, or at least above average rain to nearly every part of the nation bar the part that was supposed to be getting more rainfall. In the chart below, all shades of “blue” got above average rainfall. The dark blue? That’s the highest rainfall on record.

The rainfall deciles chart original is here.

On August 24 the BOM predicted that spring would be “hot across the north”. Instead it was cold everywhere except in the west [...]

Australian Temperatures in cities adjusted up by 70%!?

Ken Stewart has been hard at work again, this time analyzing the Australian urban records. While he expected that the cities and towns would show a larger rise than records in the country due to the Urban Heat Island Effect, what he found was that the raw records showed only a 0.4 degree rise, less than the rural records which went from a raw 0.6 to an adjusted 0.85 (a rise of 40%). What shocked him about the urban records were the adjustments… making the trend a full 70% warmer.

The largest adjustments to the raw records are cooling ones in the middle of last century. So 50 years after the measurements were recorded, officials realized they were artificially too high? Hopefully someone who knows can explain why so many thermometers were overestimating temperatures in the first half of the 1900′s.

50 years later?

The raw Australian urban temperature records are in blue. The adjusted records in red. Note that temperatures in the middle of last century appear to be adjusted downwards. These are the annual average recordings for all 34 sites.

Remember Dr David Jones, Head of Climate Monitoring [...]

Australian warming trend adjusted UP by 40%

Ken has been a very busy man. Another soul in the dedicated army of volunteer auditors. He’s been going through the entire Australian High Quality Data Set as supplied by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). He’s been assisted by two readers from this site — Lance and Janama — and we’ll be looking to increase the team (see below).

In the State of the Climate  report, both  the BOM and CSIRO told us that “since 1960 the mean temperature in Australia has increased by about 0.7 °C. The long term trend in temperature is clear… ” but as usual, what they didn’t say was that the raw data since 1910 (not just from 1960) increased only 0.6°C.

The BOM claim their adjustments are random and neutral. Yet when Ken looked at the raw data from Australia’s 100 high quality rural sites, the adjustments increased the trend in the raw data by 40% — from a 0.6°C rise over 100 years, to 0.85°C over 100 years.

In an email to Ken, Dr David Jones, Head of Climate Monitoring and Prediction, National Climate Centre, Bureau of Meteorology, made a clear claim that the adjustments had no [...]

The BOM & CSIRO report: It’s what they don’t say that matters

Ken Stewart has scanned the trend maps at BOM (Bureau of Meteorology), and his point is spot on. As soon as I saw the neat joint six page advertising pamphlet for the climate-theory-backed-by-bankers, I wondered what happened to the first 60 years of last century, and Ken found it. Did the BOM forget they have hundreds of data points from back then? Did they forget to use their own Website, where you can pick-a-trend, any-trend, and choose the one with err…more convenient results? Or is it the case that their collective mission is not necessarily to provide Australians with the most complete and appropriate information available, but with what the bureaucracy needs them to know? And what they need them to know, apparently, is the carefully censored version of the truth that will keep government ministers happy (Let us tax them more!), keep department heads smiling (Let the climate cash cow continue!), and last, but not least, help staff feel good (We’re sure we’re helping the environment!).

Why censor half their own data?

The trend map page works exquisitely well (I am happy to praise the BOM Web site team). Compare these two trend maps:

Australian Rainfall Trends 1960-2009

The [...]