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 nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Fake fixed carbon markets feed five billion to financial sharks in EU fraud

Free markets are a hot tool, but sometimes they’re “hot” like a jackhammer at a sewing bee.  Who thinks it’s smart to use a free market on a ubiquitous molecule that cycles through almost all life on Earth? Answer: people who profit from it, or people don’t know what a free market is.

About 5 years ago, the VAT tax scam with carbon credits earned financial sharks around five billion Euro. The follow up to that is that, slowly, years later, in Frankfurt about 10 people have been given prison terms. (Is that all? Only ten people and 5b, or are there others in other countries?)

This type of fraud could happen in other markets too, but it surely must be easier to accomplish in fake markets where no goods are transferred. The Global Worriers narrative is that there’s risk in unleashing carbon dioxide, but they never discuss the risks of setting up fake markets, which need a lot of regulation, auditing, checking and all that — especially when every cat and dog have a stake, and the whole market might be controlled by phytoplankton.

Every fake market we set up is a feeding lot for corruption and friends-of-the-mafia. Is [...]

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 [...]

Another carbon credit fraud – $2b. The faked fixed unfree market feeds crooks and makes no difference to emissions.

More news of how the faked fixed unfree market in carbon credits feeds the people who are inclined to cheat, and may have actually increased emissions by 600 million tonnes as well (not that that matters). Around $2 billion dollars may have been wasted, but it’s worse than wasted; the money does not just evaporate. Rewarding cheating takes money from honest players of society and feeds the corrupt sector. Free markets are a powerful tool, but good tools can be used in stupid ways. And so it is with a market trying to sell units of an atmospheric-absence-of-a-gas that no one really wants or has a use for.

The only people calling for a free market in carbon are the people who don’t know what a free market is. Sometimes a free market is just a dumb idea — like when trying to run a global market in a ubiquitous gas molecule that is intrinsic to life on Earth and oceanic chemistry. Worse, we think we might do it in countries with weak law and order, and high rates of corruption. Even sillier than that, we’re trying to sell units that depend on intentions — was that a sincere new [...]

This gold bar is worth its weight in … tungsten — corruption knocks on every door

A gold bar that should have weighed 1,000 grams, weighed 2 grams too little. The owner had it cut in half to reveal that the certified, stamped bar with serial numbers had tungsten rods inserted all the way through it. Tungsten, has a density of 19.35 g/cm3, so is a near-perfect match for gold (19.32 g/cm3) and it sells for just one ten thousandth of the price.

The gold bar was cut in half to reveal the tungsten rods.

The problem of fake gold bars By Felix Salmon March 25, 2012

You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to find this worrying: a 1kg gold bar, certified as 99.98% pure by XRF (X-ray fluorescence) tests, turns out to have been drilled out and largely replaced with tungsten. This bar was discovered only because it was 2 grams lighter than it ought to have been: the forgers failed to add quite enough gold to the outside of the bar to make up for the weight lost when they replaced gold with tungsten. But if they’d gotten the weight right, it would probably still be circulating today.


Is this a big issue? Who knows? Gold bars are rarely audited.  [...]

The fickle nature of a fake free market

Carbon prices have plummeted in the US.

(So they are that much closer to their true value…)

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative sold 40.7 million permits for $1.88 each, 19 cents lower than the last auction held in March and 2 cents above the minimum allowable bid, the cap-and-trade program said on its website today. Each permit in the carbon trading program for power plants from Maryland to Maine represents one ton of carbon dioxide.

Why are prices so low? On the one hand, people have doubts about Congress creating a national market for them. Fair enough. But on the other hand, “Tim Cheung, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance said: “Demand for power hasn’t increased with the economic recovery…”

Since people aren’t buying as much electricity there are spare “permits to pollute” all over the place. But it begs the question of what kind of economic recovery it is, if it doesn’t need … power?

Can I sell you some air over China?

Meanwhile some NGOs are waking up to the scammability of permits for invisible unverifiable goods. CDMWatch was set up by a group of NGO’s and has found the firms that sell the [...]

Carbon market chaos strikes again

What a surprise: The free-market-that-is-not-free leaps from one scandal to the next. In a real free market where salesmen sell something real, and buyers buy something they want, people can’t get away with cheating, or not for long.

If someone sold you a bulk carrier of coal, and it turned up empty, you’d notice.