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




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



Turnbull killed off the best campaign issue for the Coalition — the carbon tax

It was no accident that Turnbull turned out to be a lousy campaigner. He stood for things the people didn’t want, so he couldn’t mention his “successes” nor point at Labor’s big failures.

Andrew Bolt wonders why Turnbull didn’t run the carbon tax scare, which worked so well for Tony Abbott:

If only Turnbull had followed another critical tip from the shrewd Hunt, to hit Labor with an attack on his planned electricity tax – a new carbon tax. As Labor’s Mediscare has proved, the electorate is highly sensitive to threats to the household budget after several years now of living standards not rising. An attack on Labor’s electricity tax could have been decisive, but that was one more piece of good advice Turnbull ignored.

It was not about good advice. Turnbull couldn’t run the carbon tax scare — because he and Greg Hunt had bought a carbon tax in themselves  — the hypocrites would be exposed. Worse, it would remind the electorate of what they voted for so emphatically in 2013 — a mandate to get rid of a carbon tax.

The last time the Coalition could campaign on getting rid of that great big carbon tax [...]

Secret deal: Australia already has an ETS – carbon tax – starts in 5 weeks

Get ready. The legislation was done on the last day Parliament sat in December. The Coalition government knew it would be popular with the voters who all want “carbon action” so they… buried the news. No cheering. No speeches.

It apparently starts on July 1, and applies to 150 companies — about half our emissions. It’s a Cap N Trade system with “Caps” that can be screwed gently down as the climate warms to fill government coffers and raise electricity prices.  The Direct Action plan auctions can be phased out and the SneakTax phased in. It could end up being the main game. A blank cheque.

It’s called “Safeguard” — it was safe for politicians and guards them against their failure to meet pointless, symbolic international agreements to slow storms. A Safeguard for politicians but a SneakTax for the people.

What does it mean? It’s time Australia got a new central political party.

Alan Kohler in The Australian

From July 1, coincidentally the day before the election, the Coalition’s “safeguard mechanism” within its Direct Action Plan will come into force.

One-hundred and fifty companies, representing about 50 per cent of Australia’s total carbon emissions, will be [...]

Turnbull, Hunt suggest carbon emissions trading could start mid 2016 (Thank Gore and Palmer for the open door)

Australians have voted against a carbon tax twice. Liberals threw out Turnbull over the introduction of an emissions trading scheme in 2009, yet here he is, barely leader for two weeks and already they are floating a timeframe for the introduction of emissions trading.

I did warn that the Turnbull agreement  with the Nationals to keep Tony Abbott’s climate policies means almost nothing. It’s easy for him to keep the “target” and shift towards an Emissions Trading scheme (ETS) and he and Greg Hunt are suggesting that already.

Indeed, some of the fine print Turnbull probably wanted was already written in Abbott’s plan. Thanks to Al Gore and Clive Palmer, the possibility of emissions trading was left in the Direct Action legislation.Why else would Gore fly out here to stand next to a coal miner? And what did he offer Clive in return we wonder? Suddenly, Palmer demanded an ETS for his vote, but finally settled for a clause saying an ETS should be “reviewed” if our main trading partners brought one in. So Turnbull can technically keep the Abbott “plan” but entirely break the spirit of it. The Nationals (and 54 pro-Turnbull Liberals) will look like fools if they have [...]

Turnbull is already saying climate policies are “not set in stone”. Beware the emissions trading scheme.

It’s only been a week, and already the door is open to the emissions trading monster.  The Nationals may have got Turnbull to agree in writing last Tuesday that he would not change the Abbott policies, but writing things on paper is not enough, apparently it needs to be carved in stone.

If the member for Goldman Sachs still wants the fake “free” market solution — the one he threw away his leadership for in 2009  — he can keep the current coalition plan but use foreign credits to meet the targets. The global carbon market is the $2 Trillion dollar scheme to enrich financial houses, crooks and bureaucrats. It’s a whole fiat currency, ready-to-corrupt. The vested interests in this are knocking at every door. They’d be mad not too. But what kind of world do we want to live in? We don’t have to reward the do-nothing unproductive sector and the corrupt.

A carbon tax is a pointless waste, and the worst kind of carbon tax is a global trading scheme.

If Australians don’t want to be sold out in Paris, they need to protest now. I suggest writing to The Nationals, Libs, Nick Xenophon and media outlets.

Six [...]

Carbon tax and Sydney Uni economics, both slugs on the economy

Michael Harris,  Senior Fellow in the School of Economics at University of Sydney, has the impossible job of defending the monstrously ineffective carbon tax against the pointless-but-efficient “Direct Action” program. The carbon tax cost $15b, and cut emissions by 12 million tonnes. The Direct Action plan cost $660m, and is projected to save 47 million tonnes.

Having no numbers remotely on his side, Harris goes quantum semantic. Watch the leap. A tax is not a cost, only a transfer. That makes your tax bill so much easier to pay:

There is also a difference between costs to the economy, and transfers within it. The amount of revenue raised through any tax is not a cost; it is simply a transfer from one “pocket” to “another”. The money has not been destroyed, and it remains available to be spent on something.

Now it seems to me that if I buy a beer, it’s a transfer from one “pocket” to another pocket and if that money is destroyed in the process, that would be the end of the bottle shop. The world of economics rather depends on that money not being vaporised and being available for the shop owner [...]

The free market wins again – carbon auction price is $14 per ton — up to 300 times cheaper than Carbon Tax

Landfill gas

All the usual suspects declared it could never work. Instead, “Direct Action” is likely to be wildly cheaper and more effective (at reducing CO2). The catch is, it won’t reward friends of big-government and it won’t punish miners, manufacturers and small businesses –  which must be why climate activists don’t like it.

Results are just in from the first Abbott government Direct Action carbon auctions. The government offered to pay for carbon reduction, and held a reverse auction (where people who bid the lowest price would win). The average price came in at $14 a ton.

The Numbers: The Australian government will spend $660 million to reduce emissions by 47mT. These projects will run for about 7 years, and mean the government is on track to meet the target of 180mT reduction by 2020. — Details are at the Clean Energy Regulator.

It’s a lot less than the fantasy schemes that use wind and solar power, of which cost estimates vary partly because no one really knows what the lifespan and disposal costs are. One MIT study estimated the cost of abating carbon with wind was about $60 AUD per ton, and the cost of [...]

Finally! Carbon Tax Gone – Australia gets rid of a price on carbon

As of today, Australia no longer has the most expensive “carbon” price in the world. The voters didn’t ask for a tax in 2010,  but it was forced on them in 2011. They rejected it wholeheartedly in 2013 but it still has taken months to start unwinding this completely pointless piece of symbolism which aimed to change the weather. The machinery of democracy may be slow, but this is a win for voters.

11:15am EST today: The Australian Senate passes the carbon tax repeal bill.

“Australia has become the first country in the world to abolish a price on carbon, with the Senate passing the Abbott government’s repeal bills 39 votes to 32.“ SMH

Now we need to turn off the tap to all the other green gravy rent-seekers who ignore the evidence.

h/t Matthew (aka Matty thanks!)

Other news services are starting to cover this.  All the cross-benchers except Nick Xenophon (who was absent) voted for the repeal. Labor and the Greens opposed it.

Soon big companies will stop paying a penalty on carbon emissions, currently just over $25 a tonne, ending Australia’s most controversial policy implementation since the 2003 decision to join the Iraq invasion.

Labor [...]

Tic-tic-tic: Carbon tax repeal goes to Australian Senate (track that progress)

UPDATE Thursday: DONE Success at 11:15am this morning in Canberra. The Carbon Tax is gone.

UPDATE: Weds — This could take days. The repeal was before the Senate this morning. Labor and the Greens are “dragging the debate out” with speeches. “Filibustering” according to Finance Minister Mathias Corman (The Australian). More debate is due tonight. But the Senate has agreed to extend sitting hours after Friday and keep coming back until this is resolved. They were due to start a 5 week break on Friday. (See Sky News too). This doesn’t look like being resolved today. (SMH)

Sydney Morning Herald:   It [The government] was concerned that while all eight cross-bench senators say they are committed to consigning the carbon tax to history in a final vote, as many as three might baulk at the use of a guillotine to bring an end debate and force that vote.

In a further sign the government had lost exclusive control of the legislative timetable, the Climate Change Authority bill was removed from the list of those to be considered, supposedly at the insistence of the PUP.

Sources said the CCA bill, the purported vehicle for Mr Palmer’s proposed ”dormant” [...]

The Carbon Tax saga goes on: What game is Palmer playing?

Clive Palmer, the coal mining Billionaire and his three (or four) PUP Senators have voted down the Carbon Tax repeal they said they would pass. It was quite the blockbuster day in Australian politics. They supported the government move to bring on the vote at 11:45am today, then decided not to vote for the repeal bill. They hold the balance of power. The carbon tax is still law. It may get voted on again by next Thursday, but if that fails, it won’t be voted on again til August, and millions in carbon tax payments are on the line.

There are at least three version of why the bill failed (the same thing happened the day Palmer met Gore). Sky News suggests PUP wanted to change their amendments. According to, Palmer says the amendments put forward by the Coalition were older ones, and not the newer ones the Coalition agreed to, and he claims the government pulled a “swifty”. In an article in The Australian,  it appears the problem was that the amendments were not circulated at 8.30 this morning. Given that Palmer has been known to feed scurrilous versions to the media, perhaps the confusion here is no [...]

$7b paid in carbon tax to reduce CO2 by 0.3% and cool us by zero degrees

This news was so boringly predictable I almost didn’t post it, but numbers like this of actual outcomes of visionary Big-Government Experiments are hard to come by.

Seven billion dollars works out to $350 per person, and $1,350 per household of four, for one year. If Bill Shorten (leader of the opposition) had to knock on doors to collect this tax, there would be a riot in the street tomorrow.

The Australian reports that the $1,350 from your house for the year to Sept 2013, produced an emissions fall from 543.9 million tons all the way down to 542.1 .

National greenhouse accounts to be released today show carbon emissions fell just 0.3 per cent in the year to September 2013. This was despite the carbon tax raising $7 billion over the period.

But I hear some cry that it did help reduce emission from electricity:

The Department of Environment figures, obtained by The Australian, show electricity emissions fell 5.5 per cent or about 11 million tonnes in the year to September.

However virtually none of the 11 million tonnes “saved” had much to do with the carbon tax. About 5 million tons was due to reduced economic activity (arguably, [...]