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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Sydney Morning Herald: Jessica Wright gets the facts wrong. An attempt to defame and smear?

The SMH — another Fauxfacts publication

Jessica Wright of the Sydney Morning Herald blatantly tries to smear The Heartland Institute with outright falsehoods:

“A sister pro-tobacco lobbying organisation and corporate member of ALEC, the Heartland Institute, paid for Senator Bernardi’s accommodation and travel to the US on four separate occasions in 2010 and 2011. The institute recently ran a two-day conference in the US entitled ”Can Tobacco Make You Healthier?”

Read more: SMH

But she apparently didn’t do much research. Heartland point out that the title was not “Can Tobacco Make You Healthier”, but “Can Tobacco Cure Smoking” and the “two day” conference was a 75 minute seminar from an expert, discussing another way to help smokers quit.

“The speaker, Prof. Brad Rodu, is one of the country’s (indeed, the world’s) leading authorities on the use of smokeless tobacco products to encourage smokers to smoke less or stop altogether. Given that message, it would be more accurate to say that Heartland sponsored a seminar on ‘how to stop smoking.’

Heartland corrects the record.

It’s probably sloppy journalism. But in its darker form, thus can a propaganda artist pose as a journalist, defaming and denigrating those who oppose their [...]

Gillard calls election for Sept 14th 2013

From The Australian (preferences could flow quite differently in 2013)

I’ve heard rumors she might rush a March election partly because the global economy is teetering… (and the coalition obviously heard those rumors too, with the mini-campaign launch they put on the weekend). But given that the polls are fairly awful it’s not surprising she’s put it off.

But it is surprising that she announced it so far in advance. She may be staving off challenges to her leadership. As Bolt puts it: ” Her declaration is likely to pressure her party critics into rallying behind her. She also gets credit for making a decision, and ends the latest bout of criticism about her management – whether over the Nova Peris pick or the Mathieson joke embarrassment. “

Link to polls source: The Australian

Gillard calls Sept 14 election date [ABC]

[...]

Cloud forming bacteria?

File this under: “How little we know.”

The upper troposphere is apparently teeming with particles of bacteria and fungi, surprising researchers.* Proving that life is tenacious and that microbes can survive just about anywhere, a team at Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered that quite a bit of what we assumed was dust and sea-salt may be bacteria aloft. Some of the little critters made it as high as the upper troposphere which is 10km up (where commercial flights cruise). No one is quite sure if the microbes “live” up there, or were just visiting.

The study showed that viable bacterial cells represented, on average, around 20 percent of the total particles detected in the size range of 0.25 to 1 microns in diameter. By at least one order of magnitude, bacteria outnumbered fungi in the samples, and the researchers detected 17 different bacteria taxa – including some that are capable of metabolizing the carbon compounds that are ubiquitous in the atmosphere – such as oxalic acid.

The bacteria were probably tossed up there by wind and waves:

When the air masses studied originated over the ocean, the sampling found mostly marine bacteria. Air masses that originated over land had [...]

Eight reasons the Australian heatwave is not “climate change”

Eight reasons why this current heatwave is a boring, overhyped example of weather being used for political purposes.

1. It’s the long term trends that matter — not a few weeks of hot weather

As climate scientists keep telling us (except when they have a heatwave to milk), ”weather is not climate”. It’s the long term trends that matter. One short four week period is not a long term climate trend, but it is an excellent opportunity to create hype and scaremongering in the newspapers. Scientists with little scruple and low standards are making the most of this.

2. The “records” we are breaking are pitifully short

Even if this is the hottest heatwave “ever recorded”, it doesn’t mean much in the long term scheme of things. Natural climate cycles work on scales of 11 years, 60 years, 200 years, 1500 years, and 100,000 years. We have decent temperature records for many locations for only 50 years. We have a scratchy patchy thermometer record for 150 years. Any scientist raving about breaking a 50 year record as if it means something is … embarrassing. There is too much noise in this system and too little data.

3. If a few [...]

Unthreaded Weekend

James Lovelock partly recants

Call me fussy. James Lovelock — the GAIA man himself — is calling it as he sees it, and good on him. Bravo. I’m just a little underwhelmed with the reasoning. Hat tip to Bishop Hill, Phillip Bratby and Barry Woods.

Some things are spectacular:

I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood and misapplied. We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs. We need take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.

 

Others are not:

…there is little doubt among scientists… that the burning of fossil fuels is by far the most dangerous source of energy. … we are changing the composition of the air in a way that will have profoundly adverse effects on the Earth’s ecology and on ourselves.

So Lovelock still thinks CO2 [...]