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



Australian Speakers Agency


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

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Burn Money: wind farms in Tas and Vic are “correlated” — all useless at the same time

How to make electricity more expensive: build 1,000MW of random generation which needs expensive back up and an undersea cable too.

Tom Quirk and Paul Miskelly noticed that the team selling the new “largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere” on Robbins Island are claiming it will help stabilize the supply of intermittent power in Australia. Instead it’s likely to do the opposite. This is the same 1GW wind farm that even Bob Brown, former Greens leader, doesn’t want. An eagle-chopping eyesore.

UPC Renewables are claiming the correlation between the Tasmanian Robbins Island output is “very low” compared to the wind farms in Victoria. It would be nice if only it were true. Instead they apparently got their r mixed up with their r2 — and incorrectly claim the correlation is low when actually its dangerously high. I say “dangerous” because it’s a danger to the NEM — the national grid. The last thing we need is 1,000MW of useless extra energy that arrives when all the other useless energy arrives — exacerbating the ups and downs — driving the efficient baseload providers out of business even faster, and leaving the nation with an expensive headache and sitting on a […]

“Insanity”. Feel the angst — should the Emissions Reductions Fund pay money to coal?

Let’s set national policy by “Embarrassment”? Great way to run the country (into the ground).

Skeptics: send in your submissions before July 12.

A coal generator has asked the Emissions Reductions Fund to pay for carbon credits if it upgrades its turbines and makes less CO2. “The Specialist Reporting Team’s” Penny Timms, of the ABC, quotes two activists, asks no skeptics, no engineers, no electricity consumers, and no hard questions. They call the owner of the generator a “coal baron”. Where are the “wind and solar barons”?

Here’s the ABC standing up for their own ideology:

The chief of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Kelly O’Shanassy, said “it would be a mistake.”

“We would be the only country in the world to be using a climate fund to fund coal-fired power, and that would just be a global embarrassment,” she said.

So a know-nothing activist sayth it would be embarrassing. Who cares? Does it reduce CO2 or doesn’t it? Japan the World Bank and the UN green fundshave funded coal power.

Hypocrisy unbounded — does CO2 matter or not?

If CO2 is reduced by upgrading a coal station is it really a CO2 reduction or it is an unthinkable […]

Warning: Money on fire in Vic and SA electricity prices at $14,000 per MWh

Prices are “off the chart” in Vic and SA right now and likely for the next few hours. Factories will be closing. Diesel generators will be running, but only in South Australia and Victoria. At these kinds of prices tens of millions of dollars could be going up in smoke every hour. By the end of today the bill could come to more than a hundred million dollars.

In QLD and NSW where there are old or evil coal fired plants the wholesale electricity costs are only $105/MWh.


South Australia

The national electricity market (or at least the Eastern half and 90% of the population).


Today when we need it, wind power on the NEM is running at about 20% of total capacity. Four out of five windfarms are not working.



UPDATE: LOR3 (highest level warning) issued in Victoria but resolved at 8pm. In SA the diesel jet engines have been switched on for the first time as emergency reserve. We didn’t used to need to buy expensive machinery so it could sit around for 18 months before it was needed.


h/t Ian B, LightningCamel, George, […]

Bill Shorten wasting your money on batteries

By David Evans

Joanne called today from Doha, on her way to give a speech in Germany. I mentioned that Bill Shorten was promising to a rebate of up to $2,000 per household to install residential batteries … and a quarter of a second I heard “what a brilliant way to waste a lot of money!”

Batteries schmatteries:

Bill Shorten unveils $15bn energy plan to help tackle climate ‘disaster’, by Katharine Murphy.

Bill Shorten has unveiled a $15bn program for driving the transformation in Australia’s energy system to low-emissions sources, declaring climate change is no longer an emergency, “it’s a disaster”. …

Labor is proposing an emissions reduction target across the economy of 45% and aims to have renewables achieve a 50% share of the electricity market by 2030.

Eight coal-fired power stations are set to close over the next two decades because they have reached the end of their operating life, and Labor’s higher emissions reduction target will drive a faster rationalisation.

What do you think? Is Bill Shorten’s climate plan a disaster for Australia? Should the Federal Government have conducted some due diligence before heading down this […]

Wealthy countries accused of trying to keep their money to themselves

“Paris” is rock solid and on the brink simultaneously

In a kind of Schrodinger’s-Agreement Paris means everything and nothing all at once. The Grand Emissions-Mouth says every country on Earth has signed up except the US. The Giant Money-Mouth says it’s unravelling, an emergency and on the brink.

How can that be? Spot the pea. This strange superposition can exist because the emissions agreement is vaporware: 200 countries signed up but almost none of them are going to meet their agreement and no one cares. On the money side though, almost no one is going to give or get what they expected, and it’s a complete bunfight down to the last comma.

It was and always is, about The Money

No one gives a toss about the CO2:

The Paris climate change agreement has started to unravel as a dispute over a $US100 billion-a-year climate fund prompts new demands that developing countries be given greater freedoms to increase their emissions.

Environment groups have claimed the Paris deal was “on the brink” after an emergency meeting in Bangkok at the weekend failed to reach consensus on crucial details on how the agreement would be managed.

The […]

Climate Lobbying is a 2 billion dollar industry — Money talks, but this report has no idea what it is saying

In one of the more pointless and inane “scientific” publications of the year, Brulle et al has added up climate lobbying dollars across the years and sectors, but missed the two largest sectors and blended friend and foe unto homogenised pap. Even Brulle admits that gas companies lobby for climate legislation, while coal companies lobby against it, yet Brulle still lumps them all into the archetypal ogre called “Fossil Fuels”. Let’s perpetuate a mindless stereotype, eh?

Was that an accident or an aim?

Thus and verily do “fossil fuels” predictably outspend environmental organisations:

“Unsurprisingly, sectors that could be negatively affected by bills limiting carbon emissions, such as the electrical utilities sector, fossil fuel companies and transportation corporations had the deepest pockets. Their lobbying efforts dwarfed those of environmental organizations, the renewable energy industry and volunteer groups.”

Fossil fuels didn’t just outspend enviromentalists, they might as well have been them. Shell leaned on World Bank to nobble the competition. It begged for Big-Green subsidies to sequester carbon and lobbied for carbon trading. BP committed to a low carbon world, and went so far as to join Greenpeace and lobby the BBC itself.

Gas companies benefit from climate change […]

Don Aitken: Peter Ridd was sacked because he threatened the Money Making Engine at Uni

The university grant engine is just a part of the whole Green Scare Machine. Click to enlarge.

Science Funding is monopsonistic, one-sided and poses a real threat to science. Governments are strangling research. The more money governments throw at politicized science, the tighter the deadly grip.

Read the cutting commentary from Don Aitkin — the former vice-chancellor of the University of Canberra and foundation chairman of the Australian Research Council. There’s a vested interest here, rarely discussed, that has ballooned in the last thirty years to billions of dollars.

In The Australian and on Aitken’s blog

Don’t you Dare Upset The Money Making Machine

The engine works this way. There is strong pressure on all academics to bring in research grant money for the department, the faculty and university. Those who do it well find their careers advancing quickly. To assist them there are media sections in universities whose job it is to frame the research work of academics in a way that will gain the attention of the media. Such media releases will come with as arresting a headline as the media section can devise. Buzzwords like ‘breakthrough’, ‘crucial’, ‘cutting edge’ and ‘revolution’ will […]

Barclays bank busted for misleading customers on solar home “investment” that loses money

Tell me again how solar power is cheaper than fossil fuels

People in the UK have been misled into taking out loans to put solar panels on their roof — they were told the panels would “pay for themselves” but discovered they were losing money. The UK Ombudsman has received around 2,000 complaints.

Barclays bank hit by solar scandal

Solar manufacturers paired up with banks to install and finance solar installations telling customers they’d make money, except many didn’t:

… a common method was to encourage households to buy the panels on credit from a partner lender. Households were often told that the subsidy income, combined with the savings from buying less electricity, would more than cover the loan repayments. In some cases this proved to be false.

Many of those to whom panels were allegedly mis-sold were either “retired or approaching retirement” and some were “left in financial difficulty”, the financial ombudsman said. One customer was left £1,000 a year worse off.

We can all say fair’s fair, do your homework before you buy. But under UK law, the partner-banks are responsible for the financial scam not the solar manufacturers (and not the customers). […]

New Study: Climate, CO2, don’t cause wars — money and politics do

Two researchers looked at the ten main countries in East Africa in the last fifty years and compared global temperatures to a database of wars, conflicts and refugees.

They found that regional drought and global temperatures didn’t cause wars or drive the total number of displaced people. The things that did were rapid population growth, poor economic times, and political instability.

“What our study suggests is the failure of political systems is the primary cause of conflict and displacement of large numbers of people.”

Thus, if you love peace, it’s better to defend free speech and the constitution than to use cloth shopping bags and change your light globes.

Climate change is not a key cause of conflict

The Conversation, Mark Maslin

Probably the most surprising thing about this study is that sometimes academics test hypotheses and publish sensible conclusions.

In our recent paper, my student Erin Owain and I decided to test the climate-conflict hypothesis, using East Africa as our focus. The region is already very hot and very poor, making it especially vulnerable to climate change (in fact neighbouring Chad is by some measures the single most vulnerable country in the […]

Hello from Renewable World where companies go broke, sack people and customers have no money to spend

Businesses are closing, customers are cutting back spending, company bosses are all suddenly spot trading experts in the energy market, or planning to become their own electricity supplier. Meanwhile scouts from the US have arrived to poach companies who want cheaper energy (and tax cuts).

Happy New Year Australia. These are all headlines and stories in The Australian from yesterday and today.

Cut power bills or lose more jobs: ACCC chief’s warning on energy costs

Glenda Korporaal writes:

Australia’s competition regulator, Rod Sims, who has been tasked with finding ways to cut power bills, has warned that high energy costs will force more plant ­closures and job losses as prices continue to increase.

“Energy affordability is Australia’s largest economic challenge,” the chief executive of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission told The Weekend Australian.

“We have already seen jobs lost, investment reduced, plant closures (because of high energy prices). Unfortunately, we are going to see quite a bit more.”

Some businesses will be OK – like those that are not involved with fertilizer, paper, glass, steel, bricks, telecommunications or refrigeration:

He said the biggest pressure would be on manufacturing companies […]