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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Factories in China produce four times as much CO2 as Western factories

China is making the world’s products, but in terms of carbon they are horribly inefficient compared to the West. Old factories and coal fired electricity mean the country is pouring out CO2 — not that that matters, but it rather puts the squeeze on anyone who thinks it’s good for the environment to shut down clean western factories and give that production to China.

Figure 2 | China’s emission exports and the top exporting provinces. a The emissions embodied in goods exported from China to the US, EU and Japan are shown, representing 58% of all emissions embodied in trade in 2007 (the largest flows are labelled in MtCO2 yr-1.

A new study came out by Lui et al. with headlines all over like “Goods manufactured in China not good for the environment, study finds”. But none of these media outlets put a number on it — how much more polluting were these Chinese factories? The answer was right there in table 1 of the paper. Lui et al compare 15 products made in China and the EU, and found that China produces 4.4 times the emissions of CO2 in order to produce the same product.

When Chinese workers [...]

India and China don’t want to cut carbon, but do object to “doublespeak”

India organised a little shindig for the last couple of days with like minded developing countries (called LMDCs), like China, and announced they did not want any obligatory stuff from the UN about cutting carbon emissions.

I quite like the Indian environment minister’s way of phrasing it:

“All countries have decided to take action, but that action is voluntary and nationally determined, not internationally determined,” India’s environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar said addressing the negotiators this afternoon.

“Paris can become a festival if the world accepts this scenario – all countries take action, whatever is possible with their resources,” Javadekar said.

“If we welcome everybody’s nationally-determined actions, without criticising each other and without entering into a blame game, Paris will be successful.”

But they do want more money:

The LMDCs have also asked the developed countries to provide “additional, predictable, and sustainable climate finance” to help developing countries enhance their climate actions to cover the period up to 2020 and beyond.

I think this translates to: We’re very committed. We’ll do a lot. Don’t check up on us, just pay us.

Spot the UN double speak

The plain speaking Indian [...]

Peter Doherty: Australia is “public enemy number one”, cites “couple of people”

Why launch a $15 billion dollar tax? Forget any scientific reason; let’s do it so people overseas don’t laugh at us. This is as good as the reasoning gets. Have you got a Nobel? You too, could waffle on about hobbling our economy in the quest for international popularity.

Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty says Australia is being seen internationally as “public enemy number one” on climate change

“Australia is being regarded as public enemy number one,” said Professor Doherty, who won the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 1996.

The evidence Australia is seen as a public enemy?

“That’s a statement that’s been made to me by a couple of people – so that’s obviously a kind of buzz that’s going around the climate change community.”

Not exactly a large poll or a mass survey, but it impressed Dan Harrison, the Sydney Morning Herald and perhaps Ben Cubby (Environment Editor) too. Who needs evidence when you have the right “buzz”? Baseless ramblings are good to go.  File that rant under “Health and Indigenous Affairs” I suppose. It sure isn’t science.

The SMH could interview other Nobel Prize winners who use evidence and reason [...]

Why did China pick 2030? Oh look…

After nine months of secret negotiations President Obama managed to get the Chinese to agree to stop their emissions rising after 2030. But look what else is peaking in 2030.


China: Projections of population growth

Did Obama do his homework? Seems President Xi did.

h/t to Andrew V

Election over, so US, China agree to make unenforceable long term commitment with no consequences

Now that the mid-term elections are over in the US,  Obama is free to announce the climate commitments that voters didn’t need to hear. (I did say this would happen.) It’s a “landmark” agreement and a “gamechanger”, but no one can point out what  happens if either country doesn’t stick to its agreement.

The end-point of this grand theater of intent and glorious promises is Paris 2015.

What matters is the appearance of “momentum” — and this show ticks all the boxes. The two global superpowers make a sudden, unexpected agreement to reduce emissions and the press can call it “remarkable”, as if it has substance.  Obama –  the President without a majority in either house of Congress –  has announced a big new target of 26% reduction by 2025.  What can a lame-duck President achieve? Fluff and PR. As it happens, US emissions have been falling for years because of the miracle of shale gas and oil. This announcement supposedly doubles the pace of that reduction which was occurring anyhow, and which had nothing to do with any green policies aimed at reducing emissions. Furthermore, Obama, magically, will do it without  imposing new restrictions on [...]

Peak China

Australia might be the largest coal exporter in the world, but only because all the larger producers of coal keep their own and use it themselves. China is the silent giant coal monster — in 2009 Australia exported 260Mt of coal (our largest export industry). That same year China produced (and used) 3 billion tons. In this era, to predict anything globally, we need to understand China. David Archibald is author of the  Twilight of Abundance: Why Life in the 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish, and Short. He slices the energy data. (Energy, of course, drives everything). China is eating through its coal — it may be able to sustain this peak rate for a decade or so. Chinese oil appears close to reaching its peak. Growth in Chinese steel production has been slowing since 2006. The implications are provocative. — Jo

Guest Post by David Archibald

China has become wealthier in the last couple of decades but unfortunately is using some of that new wealth for military adventures against its neighbours.  The neighbours aren’t happy.  Over 60 percent of the people in countries bordering the South China Sea fear Chinese aggression and expect imminent war.  If [...]

Sun controls half of the groundwater recharge rate in China for last 700 years

Could this be why climate models do rainfall with all the competence of tea-leaf-reading? Tiwari et al report that as much as 47% of the recharge rates of ground water in China are controlled by the sun. Apparently climate models miss the minor factor of the major cycles.

Try this radical idea on: imagine a world where climate models worked. Not only could the BoM warn people that there would be a drought coming, they could name the region, and the years.

Tiwari et al:

Here for the purpose of comparison of long term ground water recharge rates with long term solar activity, we used the 10-year average sunspot time series, for the period 1300 to 1905 AD, published by Solanki et al., [2004]. Also the additional average annual sunspot number time series (1700 to 2000 AD) is used from data source Solar Influences Data Analysis Centre. In addition to decadal data annual sunspot number data from 1700 to 2000 AD downloaded from Solar Influences Data Analysis Centre is used in the present study. The cross-correlation coefficient (+0.63) between the groundwater recharge rate time series and decadal sunspot number [Solanki et al., 2004] shows that there is statistically significant solar [...]

China going cold on carbon market? Cites Australia and US

Another day is The Backdown? Everything is more important than carbon action these days. In China, real pollution is trumping the fake kind. China has been toying with carbon markets, but this month announced they might have to back away. (The shame!)

[Reuters]  “…the all-out efforts to combat China’s disastrous pollution levels might get in the way of plans to tax carbon dioxide emissions in a bid to stunt the rapid growth of greenhouse gas emissions, Zhu Guangyao, the vice environment minister, said.

“We have to reflect the requests of the majority through many consultation rounds,” he told the Beijing Morning Post from the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary sessions.

A carbon tax is increasingly controversial among lawmakers, said Zhu, adding that an environment tax would be easier to push through without carbon in the mix.

Zhu also referred to the fact that Australia, under a new conservative government, is trying to abolish its carbon tax, while a price on carbon has been blocked in the United States.”

China’s carbon markets were never serious anyway –  the glorious plan was to launch seven pilot trading schemes –  and each new market was an excuse for environmental activists to issue press [...]

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 [...]

The old new Rudd: tinkering with useless schemes while ignoring the coal reality

Rudd has a chance to dump a dumb policy, but won’t

Australia’s overpriced, unneccessary carbon tax will become even more overpriced next Monday (from $23 to $24.15 per ton). A spokesman tells The Australian that the all-new Labor cabinet will reconsider it all next week and may bring in the trading scheme sooner rather than later. At the moment the Gillard-fixed-carbon-price will shift to a floating price (lately, a sinking price) in two years time in mid 2015. The current EU price is $6 AUD.

The Australian understands Mr Rudd will look at all aspects of the implementation of the $23 a tonne price on carbon as a priority. The reinstated Prime Minister sought to cement his commitment to tackling climate change, declaring he had “long been committed to a carbon price”.

Rudd mistakes token efforts in China for “action”:

He accused the Coalition of inconsistency on the issue and cited action in China as evidence “carbon pricing is now becoming more and more of a global reality”.

The real global reality and action in China is that it is building more coal powered stations than anywhere, and is one of the largest coal burning nations in the world. China [...]