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



Cost of bad climate models — $10 billion wasted, and $1 billion a year for Desal plants no one uses in Australia

 If only climate models worked. Until then, the insurance bills are “eyewatering” with ten billion dollars poured into Australian Desal plants that aren’t used, and which cost another billion each year to keep being not used.

Imagine if one of these states had spent a hundredth as much on research as they did on building white elephants. They could have brought in top maths-heads, engineers, physicists and modelers and developed independent climate models that used solar factors, cosmic rays, lunar factors and even neural nets. The productivity growth could be flat-out fantastic — with the right information farmers could pick the right crops, plant at the right times, and destock or restock, and not waste seed on dry ground. Town planners could manage dams, floods and droughts without turning taxpayer dollars into mushroom clouds. The CSIRO Budget is $1.2 billion (of which the taxpayer pays $780m) and BOM $360 million (taxpayer: $212m) but the real cost of strangled government science is far more.

UPDATE: The Tungun plant in QLD may be revived for 6 weeks (at great cost) soon, and theoretically “might” be used permanently from 2020.

Idle desalination plants built by Labor cost $1bn


Desal: no water provided but Victorian families pay $450pa for bikies and drunks

The scale of government waste is spectacular, even on a global scale. Desalination in Victoria, Australia, might be the worst example, per capita, of climate waste anywhere in the world. I challenge foreign readers to outdo it.

With all the wisdom of the best Soviet-style governance, giant desalination plants on the east coast of Australia were built because of prophecies of drought. Experts said the rain wouldn’t return and the dams wouldn’t fill. Billions of dollars later, the plants were barely finished when the rain returned and the dams filled. Most of Australia’s desal plants were mothballed.

The Labor Party in Victoria signed a $22.5 billion contract over 28 years for water that could be delivered almost entirely during the “wet” 30 year part of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation when it isn’t really needed. The plant also cost $3.5 billion to build, is plagued by leaks, and so far has provided zero litres of emergency water.

Treasurer Michael O’Brien said Victorians were paying $1.8 million a day for the desalination plant to sit idle.

That works out as $113 per man, woman, and child in Victoria, or $450 per year for a family of four, paid to the [...]

Most Useless Flagrant Flop of Government (MUFFOG 2012): Finalist — Victorian Desal

In a competitive field it’s going to hard to beat this.

In 2007 the Victorian Government thought it was a good idea to spend $24 billion to build a humungously big desalination plant. There was a drought on at the time, and a specialist in small dead mammals said the drought would never end.  But now Victorian households will pay up to $310 extra in water bills next year, and something like that every year for the next 28 years until it’s paid off.

Even the people running the plant say it’s too big,

Herald Sun EXCLUSIVE: THE French boss of the troubled Wonthaggi desalination plant has admitted for the first time that the plant is too big for Melbourne’s water needs.

Suez Environment chief executive Jean-Louis Chaussade told the Herald Sun the size of the plant was based on unrealistic rainfall expectations.

“The design was done to provide water to the full city of Melbourne in case of no rain during one year – which was not realistic … The details why it was 150GL per year, I don’t know,” he said.

Which bright spark believed the government paid advertising that said there will be endless droughts? Who [...]