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



John McLean – ENSO drives sea surface temperatures on the Great Barrier Reef

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg wants us to consider putting sun shades over the Great Barrier Reef, but it begs the question — how much is the reef heating up, and how sure are we that it’s man-made and not natural?

John McLean digs into the data and finds that temperature variations on the reef appear to be closely tied to the ENSO cycle, and that there is little reason to think our SUVs and coal fired plants have anything to do with the rises and falls.

We wonder, as usual, why those paid by taxpayers can’t do the same basic calculations and graphs that the volunteers do online.


Great Barrier Reef sea temperatures – What the data says

John McLean


Inspired by the absurdity of putting shades on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR),  I studied the observational data.

We can extract data  for the grid cells that cover the reef from NOAA’s “Optimal Interpolation” sea surface temperature data (see here).  When that data is averaged across the entire reef we find that the average sea surface temperature along the Great Barrier Reef has an annual cycle very similar to that of Willis Island, a Bureau of Meteorology observation [...]

Laptop beats Met Supercomputer: SOI index (at record high) scores a win.

Back on August 6, 2010, when the UK BOM was predicting a warm winter, and every Met Agency in the West was already declaring that 2010 would be the hottest year ever, Bryan Leyland predicted (on a global scale) that before the end of the year, there would be significant cooling. As you can see from the chart, this is exactly what happened.

The UK Met Office has a gigantic supercomputer, 1,500 staff and a £170m-a-year budget, but a retired engineer in New Zealand armed only with Excel and access to the internet and with the McLean is et al 2009 paper, was able to get it right.

Parking the SOI index (the blue line) 7 months into the future suggests things may get cooler still as the temperature (red line) often follows the trend. (Click for a larger image.) Note, the SOI is shifted 7 months forwards in time, and the scale is inverted.

Before anyone scoffs that the El Nino’s are usually followed by cooling, and the SOI indicator is well known, ponder that the well fed agencies of man-made-climate-fame weren’t telling the public that a big-chill was on the way and they ought to stock up [...]

We have been conned

You can’t buy the truth, but you can buy a committee interpretation of it.

One year ago a group of eminent scientists wrote a letter to congress provocatively titled “You are being deceived.”

Now, in a similar vein, but with all the gory details, John McLean has put together a 66 page compilation of the modus operandi and history of said deception. It’s a story of how small committees of activists cite their own work, ignore contradictory information and dissenting reviewers, use the peer review system to lock out opponents,  and blithely acknowledge crippling uncertainties (but only in tracts of text that few will read, and  never in summation when it matters).

Click to read the full article

When your favourite prancing-horse-committee — the IPCC — is failing to impress the crowds, it’s time to distract them with dressage from another source. In this case, the IPCC is being reviewed by the brand new InterAcademy Council (IAC). Expect their somber pronouncement to discover some minor flaws of process, posit a few proceedural improvements, and then declare that above all, the science is sound, rigorous, and that carbon dioxide will surely kill millions if we don’t allow the [...]

Another 10 of the Worst AGW papers: Part 3

Guest post by Cohenite

To natural born critics AGW is the gift that keeps giving. It would be cruel to say these papers all exhibit unworldly qualities because that is inevitable if your purpose is to generate a virtual reality with computer modeling. But, as the old saying goes, you have to be cruel to be kind; so some of these papers are speculative and unrealistic; others are eristic and the rest egregious in intent or execution. A scientific theory such as AGW is, like all human endeavours, only as good as its best examples; the following papers, all peer reviewed, represent the best of AGW. The papers are in no particular order, or lack thereof, of merit.

Part I and Part II of The Worst Papers according to Cohenite. Conversely: Ten of the best