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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Is your snout in the trough yet?

While cancer patients will have to pay more or wait longer for treatment, the Department To Fix The Weather handed out nearly 1 billion dollars in 2010-2011, some* of which was used to “educate” people about energy efficiency and the benefits of government policies.

*UPDATE: While there are a lot of “education” grants in 2012, there are some research grants going to the CSIRO (eg in 2012 at least $13m of the $40m that year was for research at CSIRO). In 2010 (the big dollar grant year) many more of the grants were for “strategies”, for IPCC matters, for universities and the CSIRO — though none of the grants I’ve seen on a random sample add up to anything like the total outgoing.)

Is this advertising by any other name? Instead of running an ALP campaign advert, they award money to groups which promote their policies and get disguised third party ads by NGOs who collect donations and are seemingly the voice of the community (what percentage of these non-profits comes voluntarily from the community and what percentage comes via forced payment from tax?).

“Do Something” picked up $800,000 to become a type of GONGO and run a […]

Tim Flannery – baseload is just a “coal” industry idea (Yes and darkness is a “renewable” idea, right?)

How is this for a scary thought?

Tim Flannery says renewables will run the economy:

“What we can now see is the emerging inevitability that renewables are going to be running the economy…”

And I say: Prepare for economic armageddon. Picture an Australia where we all have jobs — jobs digging holes, mucking out the stables, and chopping those last few remaining trees down. We may lead the world installing chinese-made solar panels, but they won’t help us make anything that anyone else wants to buy. Anton gives us some numbers no one seems to have mentioned to Tim. Like, it takes 1,000 new wind towers to kinda equal one coal plant. – Jo


Guest Post: Anton Lang

Get ready — this is how much the 25 most recent, powerful, high-tech wind plants generate. Not the red line — that’s how much electricity we used. Look at the expanse under the blue line — every bit of that (“bit” being the word) is all thanks to those brand spanking new wind turbines.

Courtesy of the National Electricity Market. (NEM)

The red line at the top shows total electricity demand for NSW, Vic, Qld, SA, and Tasmania […]

The message from boreholes

There have been suggestions that Jo Nova might be trying to hide or ignore the most recent boreholes graph from Huang et al. So here it is. This is the last 2,000 years according to 6000 boreholes, with the last 100 years also using the “instrumental record” which gives us that hockey-stick uptick at the end. Below I explain the pros and cons of this study and update my thoughts.

Huang and Pollack 2008: Their latest boreholes published study


A borehole sounds like a bit-of-a-stretch as a proxy. How could we tell if the world was warmer in 1066 by drilling a hole in the ground? Yes, fair point. But what makes boreholes useful is that they are global and there is a lot of data: specifically 6,000 holes all over the world.

I’ve been looking at boreholes in more detail, analyzing them in the light of newer proxies. When all the evidence is considered, boreholes turn out be not-much-use at giving us meaningful numbers in degrees C, and in my opinion, not-too-hot at telling us the “when” of an event either. Too much depends on assumptions.

But what are they good for is that, when combined with […]

BREAKING: Skeptics equated to pedophiles — Robyn Williams ABC. Time to protest.

Hat tip to Graham Young editor of Online Opinion.

“That is worse than anything Alan Jones said. ” Follow Graham Young on twitter.

A bad-taste joke by Alan Jones in October created a national storm. These comments in the “science” show were supposedly considered, deliberate and researched.

This morning on the “science” show Robyn Williams equates skeptics to pedophiles, people pushing asbestos, and drug pushers. Williams starts the show by framing republicans (and skeptics) as liars: “New Scientist complained about the “gross distortions” and “barefaced lying” politicians come out with…” He’s goes on to make the most blatant, baseless, and outrageous insults by equating skeptics to people who promote pedophilia, asbestos and drugs.

“What if I told you pedophilia is good for children, or that asbestos is an excellent inhalant for those with asthmatics, or that smoking crack is a normal part and a healthy one of teenage life, to be encouraged? You’d rightly find it outrageous, but there have been similar statements coming out of inexpert mouths, distorting the science.”

“These distortions of science are far from trivial, our neglect of what may be clear and urgent problems could be catastrophic and now a professor of […]

Doha barely begun, and Crikey, someone makes sense…

From the Australian report on Doha (coming up next week)

Firstly — there is the usual nonsense, the must-have-caveats, the litany, that allows a brave journalist to write something that’s pretty obvious, but political incorrect. So first we-the-reader apparently needs to know (again) that: 1/ CO2 has hit record highs, 2/ Some large government report tells us that is awful and 3/We’re not doing enough, and 4/ Sandy the big-storm is “widely cited” by some unnamed sources (which means activists, not scientists) as evidence of climate change will make storms worse.

Then, good news, the MSM can admit that things are not accelerating (or even rising) as planned:

[Graham Lloyd] “…the most recent global temperature record, released this week, shows the average global temperature fell last year for the second year.

In short, there is agreement that the rising trend has stalled.

Many scientists accept there are natural processes at work that are not properly factored into the global temperature models.

German environmentalist Fritz Vahrenholt, a former Social Democrat Party senator, founder of wind-energy company REpower and president of the German Wildlife Foundation, has been particularly outspoken.

“According to the IPCC climate models, there should be an increase in global […]

Feelings on the ABC are running strong

Just one of the emails that crossed my desktop today. From Eric Fleay to corporate affairs @ the ABC, CC’d to myself, The Bunyip, Catallaxy, MichaelSmith, and Pickering. (Thank you Eric, such praise, for bloggers and commenters)

I would not have said things this way myself, but for all those who claim the ABC is not biased and shows no favors to the Labor Party, where is the ALP-green-voter-anger at the ABC? Do they complain that the taxpayer is forced to pay for a news service that does not cover environmental or green issues, or represent the voices of people who want more big-government hand-outs and regulation? Where are the calls from those who benefit from the gravy train to “purge” the ABC because it ignores them, denigrates, name-calls, and misinforms them with one-sided views and incompetent news? – Jo


Dear Ms ABC,

I have long bypassed television, radio and newspapers in favour of the internet to stay abreast of what is happening in the wider world. What I find amazing is that surely the ‘quality’ journalists touted by the MSM here in this country must go on the net themselves. Surely? That […]

Australia managed the mining boom so well we can’t afford cancer treatments

Our award-winning treasurer is forcing the nation to spend $8.9 billion on wind-turbines, to generate electricity which will be3- 4 times more expensive than coal powered electricity, probably won’t reduce CO2 at all, and which definitely won’t change the weather. Victoria’s windfarms have saved virtually no coal from being burnt. South Australian windfarms have saved 4% of their rated capacity in fossil fuels at a cost of $1,484 per ton.

MORE than $8.9 billion will be spent importing wind turbines because of the blowout in the Gillard government’s renewable energy target, providing few if any benefits to local industry, one of the nation’s biggest electricity generators warns.

The Australian can also reveal that a new Frontier Economics analysis commissioned by Macquarie Generation has found that the renewable energy target could slash the value of coal-fired power stations by between $11.3bn and $17.3bn – potentially having a greater impact than the carbon tax, which includes industry compensation.

In a new submission to the Climate Change Authority, Macquarie Generation said that 2500 wind turbines – costing $12.7bn – will be needed to comply with a scheme that is set to blow out the amount of renewable energy in the system to […]

Catalyst: climate astrology in your very own backyard

The ABC tv program Catalyst was quite special last Thursday. Was that a science report, or an advertorial?

Brisbane was recording temperatures with modern Stevenson Screens in 1890, as were some other stations, but the BOM often ignores these long records.

Forget gloom and doom it’s “kinder” climate now

The ABC team have shifted gear. They heard they should stop being all gloom and doom (it’s climate fatigue you know) and make it simple. So they did, and everything was delivered in a cheesy canter, like an episode of Playschool. Smile everyone! Floods will increase, but we won’t hammer you with ominous music, instead we’ll show Jonica-the-presenter cleaning the floor of her very own home, joking about the pesky trickle in the living room (To paraphrase: It’s flooded again — can you believe?).

Dr Jonica Newby reckons things have changed since she bought her house. It’s simply unthinkable that the climate now is not exactly the same at her house as it was when she first moved in — way back in the historic year of… 2000. (Gosh, eh? I wonder why the BOM don’t publish a paper on it?) Now our national debate is reduced to presenters, not […]

Weekend Unthreaded

Plenty of hot potatoes in the air at the moment…

6.8 out of 10 based on 38 ratings

Did Julia really say that? She’s here to help bankers “get their share”?

Her speech to the Australian Business Council yesterday:

And the “other Presidential contest”, the Chinese leadership transition is taking place today. In 2015, China should take its pilot emissions trading scheme national.

In total around sixty per cent of the world’s GDP is either subject to a carbon price today, or has one legislated or planned for implementation in the two or three years ahead.

International carbon markets will cover billions of consumers this decade. Ask the bankers at your table whether they want Australia to clip that ticket. We’re going to help them get their share.

So that’s the work of coming years, that’s what preoccupies my thoughts as I think through the agenda for this country.

I skimmed this line on Andrew Bolts blog, but it didn’t really register until a friend from Europe emailed it to me. (Thanks Stefan). Surely it was a slip, but then she follows it by saying “that’s what preoccupies my thoughts”.

So this is the new-ALP- out goes the workers-party, in comes the bankers-party? Ho Ho Ho

How this for a hypothetical test? What if she knew of poor workers funds going missing, say, being misused through union corruption, would she launch […]