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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Weekend Unthreaded

Two weeks to go…

Are forest fires evil polluters?

Note the mass emissions in the Amazon and Africa in Sept 2007

The Carbon tracker shows the major CO2 polluters as they splurt out CO2. See the massive plumes of CO2 around the planet.

Look at China… watch clusters of coal fired power stations bursting into life only to shut down a month later. (Or maybe not.)

Is that mass rallies of four wheel drives each August in the Congo? No, it must be air-conditioners in Kinshasa…

Tom Quirk tells me that the intermittent polluters around the equatorial region are likely to be massive fires. (And there are even monster fires as far north as Siberia).

I’m intrigued but I want some data. The NASA Earth Observatory obviously have some data — see the picture here of the same month as the picture at the top (sept 2007). It is not enough though. The dots represent the number of fires, but not the intensity, and not the fuel load…


Note the active fires in the Amazon and Africa in Sept 2007

Watch the global wildfires rage and die out in this animation below:


Consensus Police: 101 “motivated” reasons not to be a skeptic

Skeptics are often accused of being ideologically motivated to find reasons to “deny” the threat posed by man-made Global Disruptification (or whatever it is now called). Which begs the question of what ideology motivated Jo-the-former-Green, along with all the other former believers, to convert. It certainly wasn’t the money (we know from first hand experience). Could it be that damn truth-seeking ideology?

Judith Curry points out that “motivated reasoning” also applies to believers (to which I would add, yes, double-yes, and more-so — follow that money). When grants, careers, junkets, book sales, and offers to sit on golden-commissions are on the line, it doesn’t take much motivated reasoning to find excuses to believe your work is “science” even as you ignore opportunities to follow data that doesn’t quite fit, or delay publications of inconvenient graphs, while you double check, triple check, and invite like-minded colleagues to help find reasons the graphs are not important.

Some scientists are so motivated that they call opposing scientists petty names, and toss allusions they must be “funded” by vested interests, even as they ignore the billions of vested interests funding the name-callers. Meanwhile, all the silent so-called scientists in the tea-rooms that let the [...]

The day the Global Warming death spiral began

Let the historic dissection begin. Man-made global warming is a dying market and a zombie science.

The Carbon Capture Report, based in Illinois, tallies up the media stories from the English speaking media on “climate change” daily. Thanks to the tip from Peter Lang, we can see the terminal trend below. The big peak in late 2009 was the double-whammy of Climategate and Copenhagen (aka Hopenhagen). It’s all been downhill since then.

Mentions of “climate change” in news, blogs and tweets dropped suddenly from July 29, 2011

Source: Carbon Capture Report

But something that caught my eye was the drop in mid 2011 (or precisely — July 29, 2011) when media stories fell by half, a step-change fall from which they never recovered.

Media Matters, and Joe Romm make much of of the fact that after Paul Ingrassia (a skeptic) was appointed as Reuters deputy-editor-in-chief news coverage of climate change fell by half.

Media Matters found a 48% decline in climate-change coverage over a six-month period, after Ingrassia joined the agency in 2011.

But Ingrassia started in April 2011 not July. Media Matters compares 6 months before the global fall Oct 2010 – April 2011 — to [...]

Did an ice sheet collapse 120,000 years ago pushing sea levels up to 9m higher than today?

Proving that nature can outdo anything humans have done, a new paper shows that sea-levels off Western Australia may have risen as high as 9 m above the current level during the last warm period over a hundred thousand years ago. The authors (O’Leary et al) conclude that seas were 3-4 m higher for most of the last warm period (known as the Eemian) but towards the end of the period a large sudden rise occurred. They suggest that an ice shelf collapsed in Antarctica or Greenland or both, causing a 5m rise (17 feet).

The point of the paper was this double spiked shape of the sea level rise during the last warm interglacial known as the Eemian.

The Age interviewed O’Leary who said “he was confident that the 17-foot jump happened in less than a thousand years – how much less, he cannot be sure.”

Figure 3 j Relative sea-level curve for Western Australia. Ageomorphically defined palaeoMSL datum of C2:5m 120 kyr ago (Fig. 1c) anchors a predicted relative sea-level curve at Red Bluff, which includes a GIA signal based on the test calculation (see Methods) plus the following ESL history: ESL jumps from 0 to 3.4m [...]

Both parties trying to be Not-Green in Australian election, Coalition looking better at it.

Stick with us overseas readers. The spectacle goes on…

How times have changed

Back in 2007 both major parties wooed the Green vote. Now Green is so on the nose that Abbott not only declared that he was putting them last on preference swaps*, but felt it was worth egging the Labor party to join him. The ALP did not scoff. Abbott is marking the Greens as worse for the nation than the Labor Party. In response the Labor Party put out a definite “maybe-sorta-kindof”. Rudd ruled out “deals” to form government (though it’s not clear what that means exactly), but he naturally wants to use preference swaps and won’t be bragging about it.

Both major parties are competing to look tough on “irregular maritime migrants”. Though both still pay lip service to the climate-scare. It’s a shame the Liberals are still too afraid of the name-calling bullies to stand up and ask for evidence, or to promise to set up an independent science agency to audit the IPCC claims on behalf of Australian taxpayers.

Where did that bounce go?

The honeymoon is over for Rudd.

Sportsbet have the Conservatives at $1.11. Labor at $6.50. The Labor Party suffered [...]