JoNova

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 Skeptics Handbook II

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Books

At the zoo: Interpreting academics trying to interpret Christians and conservatives

Geniuses at Rice made a breakthrough and discovered that Christianity reduces the “negative” effect of being a conservative. Conservatives, see, are less likely to buy things that are “pro-environment”. The academic mindset assumes this is a personality flaw. Instead it’s an attribute. The environmental movement has a record of hurting the poor, razing forests, and destroying family businesses. There is a reason “environmentalist” has come to be a dirty word.

Supersize that condescension:

Obviously the true evil people are the people who watch Fox.

“Put more colorfully, Americans who are watching Fox News instead of attending church on Sunday morning appear to be particularly uninterested in buying with the environment in mind,” said Ecklund, who is also director of Rice’s Religion and Public Life Program. “It would stand to reason that those who participate in their houses of worship and who tend to be more engaged in civic life may have less time to be exposed to such media and therefore be less likely to follow the politicized conservative ‘line’ with respect to the environment.”

So, both Christians and conservatives are dump people who are fooled by Fox. But Christians are a bit more useful, not because they [...]

Heaven and Hell, the Pope condemns the poor to eternal poverty

Ian Plimer has a new book out today, as usual, skewering sacred cows.

“Only when Third World children can do homework at night using cheap coal-fired electricity can they escape from poverty.”

From the press release:

Click to buy from Connor Court Publishing

HEAVEN AND HELL: THE POPE CONDEMNS THE POOR TO ETERNAL POVERTY

by Professor Ian Plimer

The recent papal Encyclical was on climate and the environment.  This book criticises the Encyclical and shows that we have never lived in better times, that cheap fossil fuel energy has and is continuing to bring hundreds of millions of people from peasant poverty to the middle class and that the alleged dangerous global warming is a myth.

I have great respect for the Pope’s sincere wishes to end pollution and poverty. We all share the same sentiments. The solution is to use cheap coal-fired electricity and not to demonise coal and other fossil fuels. The Industrial Revolution and the growth of East Asia and India shows that with cheap coal-fired electricity, people are brought out of poverty. It has happened to hundreds of millions of people over [...]

ABC bias against coal hurts the poor and the workers: Sell the ABC

A new report shows ABC journalists are fond of renewables and overlook their dismal economic value, while putting out bad news on coal, and ignoring the benefits of vast cheap profitable energy. Who could have seen that coming: a large public funded institution attracts employees who like large public funding?

The IPA arranged for a media analysis firm to compare the ABC reporting on coal and renewables.

ABC gives the green light to renewables, and the red light to Australia’s largest export industry and provider of 75% of our electricity.

ABC accused of bias against coalmining

Andrew Fraser, The Australian

The analysis of 2359 reports broadcast on the ABC over six months before March 15 this year found 15.9 per cent of stories on coalmining and 12.1 per cent of those about coal-seam gas mining were favourable, while 53 per cent of those on renewable energy were favourable.

It also found 31.6 per cent of stories on coal mining and 43.6 per cent of stories on coal-seam gas were unfavourable, while only 10.8 per cent of stories on renewable energy were ­unfavourable.

The ABC has become its own best case for privatizing the ABC. How much could we get? The [...]

Biomass burning kills 250,000 people a year

The headline at Science Daily is that wildfires and other burns lead to climate change. The paper itself asks: “As such, particle burn-off of clouds may be a major underrecognized source of global warming.” For me what matters are the deaths in the here and now:

“We calculate that 5 to 10 percent of worldwide air pollution mortalities are due to biomass burning,” Jacobson said. “That means that it causes the premature deaths of about 250,000 people each year.”

 This is similar to Indur Goklany’s conclusion in 2011:

Killing people with “concern”? Biofuels led to nearly 200,000 deaths (est) in 2010.

In a study  published in  Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Indur Goklany calculated the additional mortality burden of biofuels policies and found that nearly 200,000 people died in 2010 alone, because of efforts to use biofuels to reduce CO2 emissions.

Goklany (2011) estimated that the increase in the poverty headcount due to higher biofuel production between 2010 and 2004 implies 192,000 additional deaths and 6.7 million additional lost DALYs in 2010 alone.

He compared this death tally to the WHO figures for deaths attributed to global warming and finds that [...]

Carbon trading: may save a coal deposit, but farmers die, rivers run dry, and some are left homeless and poor

Perhaps this insurance costs too much?

Between Jan 2010 and March 2011, allegedly, 23 Honduran farmers have been murdered by the owners of a UN-accredited palm oil plantation.

“EU carbon trading rocked by mass killings”

At issue are the reported murders of 23 local farmers who tried to recover land, which they say was illegally sold to big palm oil plantations, such as Grupo Dinant, in a country scarred by widespread human rights abuses.

In July, a report by an International Fact Finding Mission was presented to the European Parliament’s Human Rights Sub-committee, alleging that 23 peasants, one journalist and his partner, had all been murdered in the Bajo Aguán region, between January 2010 and March 2011.

The deaths were facilitated by the “direct involvement of private security guards from some of the local companies who are complicit with police and military officials,” the report said.

In some cases it cited “feigned accidents” in which peasants were run over by security guards working for two named palm oil businessmen. In other cases, the farmers were simply shot, or “disappeared”.

Strangely, though the report was released in July, it’s become news now that a Green MEP and EU policy makers announced [...]

Killing people with “concern”? Biofuels led to nearly 200,000 deaths (est) in 2010.

The precautionary principle is exposed again for the insidious mindless posturing that it is.

Biofuel policies push more people into poverty as food prices rise and the poor are forced to spend more of their income on food. In a study  published in  Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Indur Goklany calculated the additional mortality burden of biofuels policies and found that nearly 200,000 people died in 2010 alone, because of efforts to use biofuels to reduce CO2 emissions.

Bad Government is a killer.

“Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries?

Goklany (2011) estimated that the increase in the poverty headcount due to higher biofuel production between 2010 and 2004 implies 192,000 additional deaths and 6.7 million additional lost DALYs in 2010 alone.

He compared this death tally to the WHO figures for deaths attributed to global warming and finds that the biofuels policies are more deadly. (And he is not including any increase in poverty due to other anti-global warming practices).

1. Biofuel policies are retarding humanity’s age-old battle against poverty.

2. Since according to the World Health Organization’s latest estimates, 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs in 2004 could be attributed to global [...]

On climate change, the wrong choice kills people either way

Here’s a topic close to my heart. Before I became involved in climate change and currencies, my hot topic-of-choice for years was medical research and health. In my honours degree I worked to get a tiny step closer to treating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. When I saw that The Australian Government was threatening to cut medical research, I wanted to put a razor fine point on just what muddy thinking costs us. This article I wrote is published in The Weekend Australian today. We can’t afford to get the decision wrong on climate change. We must fight the battles that matter, not build fortresses against imaginary foes.

Wasting money on climate change betrays sick Joanne Nova From: The Australian May 07, 2011 12:00AM

LOST opportunities are invisible but deadly. On climate change, the call to buy insurance by pricing carbon is a cop-out. Where is the cost-benefit analysis? We’re thinking of axing Australian medical research yet we’re supporting solar panel manufacturers in China. It doesn’t have to be this way.

All the money spent employing green police, subsidizing solar or researching how to pump carbon dioxide underground is money not spent on medical research. Opportunity cost is a killer. [...]

Unintended Consequences: Greens protect coal deposits and destroy rainforest

In Borneo, the Dypterocarp forest, one of the species-richest in the world (F), is being replaced by oil palm plantations (G). These changes are irreversible for all practical purposes (H).

Oops.

Brought to you by the same kind of people who regulate free markets to the point where you can get detained for selling light bulbs heat balls, comes the cry for a “free market solution” on carbon emissions. These people wouldn’t know a free market if it was the only bridge across a swamp full of crocodiles. Is that a stable path; a simple choice; a tested way through the quicksand?  No No! There’s a log (it looks like a log)… “it’s natural”. (It’s two hundred million years of natural selection.)

Playing with fake markets is begging to be bitten, and what do you know? A carbon market puts a price on life, but it only applies to some goods (all pigs are equal… but some are more so). The loop-holes pile on loop-holes until out the other end of all those angelically good circular intentions pops the exact one answer they were trying to avoid.

Figure it out. If global policies devalue concentrated energy underground and [...]

Unintended Consequences – part 1

We come across these stories all the time: Those moments when the most well-intended ideas turned out to have a kicker of an outcome. It’s time to start organizing and filing them.

Money is a powerful fuel. But, some people think you can inject it into a human ecosystem, and that everyone will keep acting the same.  Like people are forgetting the feedbacks….

Here, one legislator describes the outcome of his own work as a “gigantic rort”, and another researcher uses the word blackmail. Meanwhile, two out of three children diagnosed with autism in Queensland are apparently not autistic.

[...]