JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Advertising

micropace


GoldNerds

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



Archives

Books

Playing politics with every disaster: Vanuatu cyclone blamed on “climate change”

So far 24 are confirmed dead in Vanuatu, a figure that seems likely to rise.  About 100,000 are homeless, according to the local Oxfam director, which, if accurate, is an awful lot in a country of 270,000. There is no doubt the nation needs help.

Despite the pressing need to solve immediate problems, the predictable claims are already starting. How many journalists will bother to check these claims against the history of cyclones in Vanuatu?  Accuweather lists a lot, including one in 1951 that killed 100 people when CO2 levels were just 311ppm. In 1987 another storm killed 48.

President Baldwin Lonsdale is blaming “climate change”.

Pacific nations regard themselves as at the frontline of climate change, given many are low-lying islands dangerously exposed to rising sea levels, and Lonsdale said changing weather patterns were partly to blame for the destruction.

“Climate change is contributing to the disaster in Vanuatu,” Lonsdale told reporters in Japan, saying rain had been unusually heavy this year.

Even President Hollande, host of the Paris UNFCCC later this year, is milking this disaster: “…the cyclone “is a new cry for the international community to take seriously its responsibility in the fight [...]

Category Five storms aren’t what they used to be

UPDATE: Data for Middle Percy Island has disappeared from the BOM site, but Jennifer Marohasy kept a copy. (I’m sure the BOM will be grateful!) The Courier Mail has an article quoting Jennifer.

The facts on Cyclone Marcia: the top sustained wind speed was 156 km and the strongest gust 208 km/hr. These were recorded on Middle Percy Island in the direct path before it hit land and apparently rapidly slowed.  The minimum pressure recorded after landfall was 975Hpa. BOM and the media reported a “Cat-5″ cyclone with winds of 295 km/hr. To qualify as a Cat 5, windspeeds need be over 280km/hr. The UN GDACS alerts page estimated the cyclone as a Cat 3.

The damage toll so far is no deaths (the most important thing), but 1,500 houses were damaged and 100 families left homeless. It was a compact storm, meaning windspeeds drop away quickly with every kilometer from the eye, so the maps and locations of the storm and the instruments matter. See the maps below — the eye did pass over some met-sites, but made landfall on an unpopulated beach with no wind instruments. It slowed quickly thereafter. The 295 km/hr wind speed was [...]

Disaster. Australian cyclone season is quiet! We have to stop that!

Get ready:

“Australia records its third quietest start to the cyclone season in 50 years.” ABC news, Jack Kerr

Bravo, I thought. ABC covers a good-weather story… but no, lo, for the climate oracles tell us this is ominous and bigger nastier storms are coming. Be afraid!

This weather is weird?

There have only been four occasions since the mid-1960s when cyclones haven’t crossed the mainland before February.

Only four. Golly! This year is almost as “bad”as the worst of the prehistoric era, i.e. ’68, ’80, ’88).

It’s not like the good ol’ days  — when people used to get decent cyclones all the time:

Back in 1870, when Cairns started life as a gold port, four to five severe cyclones would hit the Queensland east coast every decade. By 2010, that average was down to less than two.

Lucky them.

To see the effect of man-made global warming, look hard at this graph below.  Spot the… trend.

A high bar means a long slow quiet start to the cyclone season.

At the start in 1964 CO2 was a wonderful 320ppm. Now it is at 400ppm and obviously (when seen through a computer [...]

Watching Cyclone Ita – Category One (was Five yesterday) over Queensland

UPDATE Sat morning: Thank goodness this has slowed dramatically. Now Cat 1 at 120 km/hr. 990hPa. While some have lost homes, there don’t seem to be any lives lost, though rainfall and storm surges mean the situation is still dangerous.  Courier Mail appears to have the best live coverage.

About midnight, last night Queensland time, Cyclone Ita crossed the coast. (Roughly about now). Hopefully it will pass through a less developed region. It potentially could be disastrous. We hope not. It is about 500km across (?) while Cyclone Yasi was 600km wide.  Winds were nearly 300km per hour but have slowed to 265km/h  205km/h. One meteorologist predicts it to slow to Category Four as it makes landfall. [He was so right, it's now a Cat 3]. Other reports say there’s no sign of that.

Cyclone Ita is currently Category 5 Category 4 Category 1 bearing down on the region around Cooktown and Cairns in North Queensland.

The Cairns 500km radars show it. The BOM warnings. ( 120km 105 30km N of Cooktown. Winds: 295km/hr.   265km/hr 205km/h Pressure: 931 939 960hPa. ) It’s clearly visible in the satellite image on the radar link. ABC live blog. [...]

There are fewer Australian tropical cyclones (thanks to climate change?)

UPDATE: Cyclone Ita is now Category 5 bearing down on Cooktown in North Queensland, the radars will show it soon. 175km NNE of Cooktown. Winds up to 300km /hr.  931 hPa.  See The BOM warnings. Thoughts for those in the path. (It’s clearly visible in the satellite image on the radar link).

——————————————————————————–

A new paper by Andrew Dowdy tells us that from 1980 to 2013 the incidence of tropical cyclones around Australia has been falling. If CO2 is influencing cyclones around Australia, presumably this implies we should burn more coal.

Those convinced about the power of CO2 will point out that the models predict an increase in intensity, not frequency. To that end, I say: see the BOM graph below. Note the red bars marked “severe”. Then tell yourself that the science is settled and we should spend billions to change those trends. The BOM say “the number of severe tropical cyclones (minimum central pressure less than 970 hPa) shows no clear trend over the past 40 years.”

Interestingly Callaghan et al 2010 goes back all the way to 1870. It finds the trend of severe land-falling cyclones has fallen by a whopping [...]

Greenland ice cores show natural swings are large and warming means less storms

A new high resolution ice core in Greenland surprises even me with the wild swings and detail. The authors are discussing wind direction and storms that occurred in specific years 12,000 years ago, which is extraordinary information if accurate. They use elements like sodium (from sea salt) to figure out how many storms have dumped salt on the ice and take bands so thin they identify each summer so long ago*. The slices are so thin, they claim to have hundreds of samples per year.

The message here is that the cold younger dryas period ended abruptly (within one year) and so did the storms. Naturally, they warn that the abrupt changes mean the climate is unstable, “be afraid” type stuff. My take on this is that if natural factors cause abrupt climate change, we need to know what those natural factors are. The obsession with CO2 is hindering that. Also if warming brings less storms, that’s probably not such a bad thing. The caveats being that this is only one site, and less storms over the GISP site doesn’t tell us if less storms occurred elsewhere. It could be that jet streams shifted and moved the storms to another [...]

Climate Change is making us mental — fear of “storms” undoing evolution!

These days people are practically getting post traumatic climate disorder after bouts of extreme weather. More pointlessly, some are getting pre-traumatic stress from events that haven’t even happened.

Makes you wonder how humanity survived the ice ages every time a storm hit — no fire department, no Hurricane-Relief funds, no phones, no food stores, no doctors. Electricity out for 90,000 years.

Americans’ Mental Health is Latest Victim of Changing Climate (Op-Ed)

For months after Hurricane Sandy sent nearly six feet of water surging into her home in Long Beach, N.Y. — an oceanfront city along Long Island’ s south shore — retired art teacher Marcia Bard Isman woke up many mornings feeling anxious and nauseated. She had headaches, and inexplicable bouts of sadness. She found herself crying for no apparent reason.

“I would feel really sad, and that’s just not me,” she said. “I felt like the joy was out of my life. I still haven’t recaptured it.”

What Isman is experiencing is one of the little-recognized consequences of climate change, the mental anguish experienced by survivors in the aftermath of extreme and sometimes violent weather and other natural disasters. The emotional toll of global warming is expected [...]

Australia has lowest number of tropical cyclones in 1500 years?

A new paper suggests there is an “unprecedentedly” low number of tropical cyclones around Australia at the moment. (How much should we spend to avoid this dreadful outcome I wonder?)

I am a little skeptical of how we can be so sure of the cyclone activity in, say, the year 900 AD. But nonetheless, the study is worth a look. Haig et al took stalagmites from two places in Australia (Chillagoe, Qld, and Cape Range, WA) and got very nice long year-by-year records of 18O and 16O data. They calibrated these against observational instrumental records — though I note these are but a tiny 20 years of data (1990 – 2010), and that during a period described by mainstream climate science (cough) as “unprecedented”.

Assuming that it is possible to pick apart normal rain and cyclonic rain, and that cyclone activity did not just shift to be more than 400 km away (where these stalagmites won’t record the cyclones) then it does appear that there are usually more cyclones in Australia than now. Note the top graphs are the WA site which go back to 500AD, and the lower pair are the QLD graphs “only” going back to 1300AD. Both [...]

Australia’s record hottest 12 month period? Not so say the Satellites

Another round of government-funded PR went out a couple of weeks ago, across the obedient Pravda-media. It told us about another meaningless “record” that was probably not a record, and wouldn’t tell us whether man-made warming was the cause, even if it was. Not a single journalist had the wherewithal, nous or intellectual honesty to search the Internet looking for a different point of view. Though, in their defense, how could they have guessed that Prof David Karoly wouldn’t know about the UAH satellite program to measure temperatures? (It has only been running since 1979.)

This below, are the 12 month averages over Australia by satellite. Graphed at Kens Kingdom by Ken Stewart, with no doctorate in climatology and no government funds.

In the troposphere over Australia it was a hot year but not a record.

 

For the third time this year we’ve been hit with claims of a “hottest ever” record that doesn’t tell us anything about the climate, but does reveal a lot about the sick state of government funded science, corrupted, decrepit, and so far from being scientific it might as well be run by Greenpeace.  If the government stopped funding climate science entirely, climate [...]

Lewandowsky, Prof of Psychology, thinks the Labor Government doesn’t benefit if he calls their opponents “stupid”.

Stephan Lewandowsky’s work is a case study in government funded inanity. Some Australians are sure that burning coal will make storms stronger. Others are not convinced. In November 2012 Lewandowsky’s intellectual contribution to science in Australia was to call the unconvinced “stupid”. If that’s not inane enough, at the same time he claimed that he didn’t recieve funding from any organisation that would benefit from his article.

How many taxpayer dollars went towards funding that? No conflict of interest?

Are Australian Research Council funds used as a form of third party advertising for Labor Government policy?

Writing in “A storm of Stupidity, Sandy, Evidence and Climate Change” on The Conversation, his reasoning is like this: some scientists reckon that a very bad storm called “Sandy” has “links” to man-made emissions of a trace gas. Lewandowsky reasons that because those scientists are called “experts”, anyone who questions them should be called stupid. (He thinks this article and that tweet were overdue). Though, in a twist, apparently he doesn’t actually think the unconvinced are actually stupid, he thinks they are ethically “disembodied” people who “mislead”. (As an aside, notice how he approves of news articles that call them stupid even though [...]