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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Friday 13th Christmas Drinks – Newcastle and Sunshine Coast

Friday 13th:   Newcastle sceptics for lunch and Sunshine Coast sceptics are getting together for afternoon drinks.

Email me: joanne AT and I’ll forward your email to the skeptic in charge. Even if you can’t get there this time, we’ll let you know for the next.  I hear the Sunshine Coast Sceptics are in for a real treat… (send me those photos please!)   Jim, in Newcastle your email bounced when I replied. Please try again.

Last week’s events were a great success in Perth, Melbourne, and Rockhampton. Avid friendly conversations. Likeable, interesting people. Seems we all need more meetings more often:

Ray writes: “Thank you! It was quite shocking really. I was quite unprepared for normal conversation… “

There’s a regular weekly (weekly!) event in Sydney on Thursday nights.  For people in other areas — get cracking…!

Photo by Jonathan Rautenbach on Unsplash


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British election: Here’s hoping democracy wins

Thoughts are with you Freemen of the United Kingdom. One day away from a very important election.

Boris is just brilliant in this Ad. He carries off the parody of the carol singers in “Love Actually” without looking smug or self conscious.

The Australian-ABC Groupthink Predictor points at a conservative win — since ABC NEWS has barely mentioned the UK election during the whole campaign, obviously it’s not looking good for the leading socialists. If Corbyn was in the lead we’d hear about it every night and see him with adoring crowds. If Corbyn was winning, it would be called a Climate Election, and a Brexit election.

But Groupthink can be wrong. To all skeptics and Brexiteers in the UK, please get out and vote. Don’t take anything for granted. Conservatives don’t just need a win, they need a workable government.

Will the nation that invented freedom manage to escape the clutches of the EU?

star comment
PS: Best of luck to the excellent Roger “Tallbloke” running in Oxford East. See his comment in #1.3

h/t David

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Exxon wins trial: “Exxon knew” proves to be junk claim

“Exxon knew” is now legally proven to be the vacuous empty dogwhistle it always was — a cheap stunt to whip up jealously and anger in gullible minds.

Exxon wins first-of-its-kind climate change case against New York

December 10, 2019,  Josh Seigel, Washington Examiner

ExxonMobil won a first-of-its-kind climate change fraud trial on Tuesday as a judge rejected the state of New York’s claim that the oil and gas giant misled investors in accounting for the financial risks of global warming.

New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager said the state failed to prove that Exxon violated the Martin Act, a broad state law that does not require proof of intent of shareholder fraud.

“The office of the Attorney General failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that ExxonMobil made any material misstatements or omissions about its practices and procedures that misled any reasonable investor,” Ostrager wrote in a 55-page ruling, deciding the case without a jury.

The Democrats in NY spent three years working on this before filing the suit, but apparently didn’t realize they were barking at clouds the whole time?

New York Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Zweig announced during his closing statement that the state would no longer be claiming Exxon knowingly and willfully misled investors on how it accounts for the financial risks of climate change.

Incompetence is the Deep State

Officials waste taxpayer money on frivolous law-suits to either support their own faith in a neopagan religion, or support the financial interests of their party donors. Their greatest strength is their overwhelming audacious confidence, but it’s also their greatest weakness, and guarantees they will take any tiny seed of something and run with it til they smash headlong on the rocks.

We can only hope some heads roll.

This is very related to the ASIC investigation coincidentally announced yesterday in Australia.

ASIC investigating large companies’ climate change risk management

Jackson Gothe-Snape, ABC

The corporate watchdog has launched a new surveillance program to ensure Australia’s biggest companies are dealing with the risks of climate change.

The move follows comments by former High Court judge and royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne that directors of companies could end up in court if they do not properly deal with the risk.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has started contacting large companies this week as part of its investigation into climate risk governance.

We wish ASIC would investigate the CSIRO and BOM for misleading taxpayers and corporations about the risks of climate change. Who protects the taxpayers? Who is responsible for all the malinvestment, wasted money, destruction of a perfectly good grid?

If there are directors who are concerned please get in touch. I can quietly connect you with information and experts.

Greater minds than I may have more insight into the validity of the ASIC move. Why is a government watchdog trying to protect investors in situations where sane investors should be making up their own minds — both about the risk of climate change and also the corporate response? It’s as if the government has decided that no sane investor would prefer to put money into companies that are not wasting it preparing for a fantasy future.

Welcome to creeping communism — where the state decides what private businesses have to do, and what private investors need to know. After twenty years of non-stop propaganda on this topic surely there is no person in the West within one SD of an average IQ who is not  fully aware of theoretical, supposed “climate change” risks.

h/t Pat. Thank you for your card!  h/t also Howard H.

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Pushing back the Deep State? US Supreme Court may be able to stop politicians fobbing off big decisions to the EPA

The Deep State gets around congress and voters but we all know it isn’t supposed to be that way

John Locke, two Treatise on Government, Book.

The voters may not like the decisions, but they can’t vote out the bureaucrats. Think of the EPA, the FDA, and of course, the central bankers. Think of the Clean Air Act!

Some of these agencies effectively make the guidelines that we-the-people have to live by, then they enforce them, and adjudicate them too. They become defacto Kingmakers in their own fiefdoms. They are the fourth branch of government, also known as The Deep State.

But what feels wrong, may indeed be wrong, and it’s possible the Obama era Clean Power Plan could be repealed if it is deemed to breach the NonDelegation Doctrine, and there is renewed interest in this now that Brett Kavanaugh is in the Supreme Court. (No wonder some tried so hard to get him out).

The nondelegation doctrine is centuries old, and implicit in not just the US but all written constitutions that impose a separation of power. Here’s the wikipedia entry:

The origins of the nondelegation doctrine, as interpreted in U.S., can be traced back to, at least, 1690, when John Locke wrote:

The Legislative transfer the Power of Making Laws to any other hands. For it being but a delegated Power from the People, they, who have it, cannot pass it over to others. … And when the people have said, We will submit to rules, and be govern’d by Laws made by such Men, and in such Forms, no Body else can say other Men shall make Laws for them; nor can the people be bound by any Laws but such as are Enacted by those, whom they have Chosen, and Authorised to make Laws for them.

– (Locke 1690. Ch 17, § 94)

An article in E&E argues that no one has used them since 1935, but now with Kavanaugh on the benches, they might. That would rather drop the cat among the pigeons…

Kavanaugh opens door to carbon rule challenge

Niina H. Farah, E&E News

Court watchers say Kavanaugh’s addition to the bench could open the door to a revival of the long-dormant nondelegation doctrine, which prevents Congress from handing off policy decisions to federal agencies.

The return of the doctrine, which the court has not used to scrap an agency rule since 1935, could pose a threat to greenhouse gas regulations, said UCLA law professor Ann Carlson.

“The basic idea is that if Congress hasn’t specifically addressed a question, then for an agency to take up that question and regulate on it — particularly when there has been a relatively large passage of time since Congress spoke — it shouldn’t and can’t do so, at least in expansive ways,” Carlson said.

Litigation over the repeal and replacement of the Clean Power Plan could test conservative interest in bringing the nondelegation doctrine back into play.

Critics of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan have argued that EPA overstepped its authority when it drafted a rule to systematically slash emissions from power plants. Under President Trump, the agency has ushered in the less-stringent Affordable Clean Energy rule and has asked a lower court to find that the 2015 regulation was not allowable under the Clean Air Act (Energywire, Nov. 5).

Wikipedia:   The Nondelegation doctrine

United States

In the Federal Government of the United States, the nondelegation doctrine is the principle that the Congress of the United States, being vested with “all legislative powers” by Article One, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, cannot delegate that power to anyone else. However, the Supreme Court ruled in J. W. Hampton, Jr. & Co. v. United States (1928)[1] that congressional delegation of legislative authority is an implied power of Congress that is constitutional so long as Congress provides an “intelligible principle” to guide the executive branch: “‘In determining what Congress may do in seeking assistance from another branch, the extent and character of that assistance must be fixed according to common sense and the inherent necessities of the government co-ordination.’

Delegation is a question of balance — how do we define what a “big policy” decision is, and what’s a small one?

Jonathan Adler, an environmental law professor at Case Western Reserve University said: “A revival of nondelegation claims doesn’t mean agencies like EPA would be robbed of discretion to act, but that Congress would make the “fundamental legislative choices,”… That could be a good thing, he added.

“Congress could certainly identify criteria on which the regulations would be based, and that’s the way the democratic process is supposed to work,” Adler said.

“The legislature is supposed to be making the big policy judgments.”

There is, maybe, hope in Australia and Canada and NZ … (See wikipedia)

Australian federalism does not permit the federal Parliament or Government to delegate its powers to state or territorial parliaments or governments, nor territorial parliaments or governments to delegate their powers to the federal Parliament or Government, but the states parliaments delegate its powers to the federal parliament by means of section 51 subsection (xxxvii) of the Constitution Act 1901.

 Supposedly “Independent” agencies are also unaccountable agencies

Are all those deep-state agencies independent from political influence, or are they just independent of “the voters”?

Image: Wikimedia in the public domain.

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Skeptics win on fires: ABC quietly flips — suddenly it’s fire management not climate change to blame

This is how the paradigm changes. The old activism is quietly dropped down the memory hole…

Buried in a save-the-koala story on ABC News tonight is an ABC journalist saying for the first time that it is “current fire management practices” that are the problem. Rani Hayman didn’t say fuel load, but she might as well have. The reference to “indigenous fire practices” makes it obvious that the ABC means more hazard reduction burns (not that they can say so). She also didn’t say “climate change” — write it in your diary. On November 14th, the same ABC journalist was only interviewing the posterboys who blamed “climate change” for the fires. 

UPDATE: Holy smoke — the Sydney Morning Herald also appear to have flipped hours earlier in the morning and in a much stronger and more direct way. Regular SMH reader Dave B sends in the link and says “wow… here’s a huge surprise”. Finally a spot of real journalism. Was this story the last nail in the ABC fuel-load denial?

Prescribed burning ‘key to controlling fires’.  

By Tim Barlass, Sydney Morning Herald

Expert says blazes have burnt where hazard-reduction took place two years ago. “

Tim Barlass, SMH:   A forestry expert has condemned bushfire prevention strategies in an open letter to the Prime Minister and premiers, saying it is entirely within their power to put an end to the situation by prescribed burning. Vic Jurskis, a fellow of the Institute of Foresters of Australia, the body representing more than 1200 forestry professionals, says Australians are being told that “fires are uncontrollable in extreme weather and there’s nothing we can possibly do”. He said the “simple solution” of preventative or prescribed burns to reduce fuel levels of leaves, dead twigs and other vegetation emerged from a House of Representatives inquiry after the 2003 Canberra fires, which destroyed 488 houses.

Mr Jurskis said: “The fires that burnt Canberra in 2003 jumped over miles and miles of bare paddocks. The problem is if you have three-dimensional, continuous fuel and extreme conditions, you can generate ember showers that travel tens of kilometres ahead of the front.

“A fire break is going to do nothing at all. You have to manage the whole landscape.”

“It is bogged down by green [environmental] and red tape which makes getting approval for a prescribed burn a very slow and complex process.

“They have introduced a system that makes it virtually impossible to manage the bush in a sustainable way. I am just one of thousands of volunteers out there who are frustrated.”


Skeptics have been mocking the ABC and Greens and Fairfax news for years:

Jo Nova 2013: ABC plan to stop bushfires with windmills and buckets of your cash

ABC Fire Management Plan

2013: ABC Fire Management Plan according to Jo Nova

Also in 2013:  Fuel Loads Not Climate Change Are Making Bushfires More Severe

Suddenly on the ABC, the reason for the unprecedented fire situation is described as the way we manage our forests. The moment that marks the flip is when she uses the magical groupthink terms — saying “most agreed” – as if it was never contentious, and as if the ABC hadn’t been blaming climate change for years and wheeling out lame excuses for why we can’t do hazard reduction.  Tonight we heard without fanfare that we need to use indigenous fire practices.  The ABC reporter interviewed an aboriginal and a koala expert. She didn’t interview the old fire experts (mostly old white men) like the SMH did.  They ignore people who’ve said this for years (apart from indigenous elders), nor did Hayman mention that climate skeptics were right, and years ahead of the ABC science unit.

It looks like the ABC are figuring out they were wrong.  Shame they don’t have the honesty to say so.

The primetime news item below is no-news for skeptics — what’s interesting is the way the big shift is disguised, and the old agenda morphs to a new-old one.  It’s easy for the ABC to swap climate change activism for being an indigenous cheer-squad. But if there is no honesty, there’s also no search for answer they really need to figure out. Why were the best funded journalists in the country, and the flag waving fans for all-things-indigenous also the last ones to figure out what fire specialists and even unpaid bloggers have been saying for years.

Did the best-funded academics in Australia let down the most incompetent reporters in the country?

(Probably, but only after the best-paid journalists in the country rewarded the most incompetent academics… it’s a chicken-eats-egg thing.)

The politically correct octopus strangles investigative journalism just like it does to everything else. The most strangled and useless journalists are the publicly funded ones. At least the SMH finally gets the whole message. It doesn’t matter if we do little bit of hazard reduction here and there, if we let twenty years of fuel build up anywhere, nothing will stop the conflagration once it starts.

If the ABC were serving the nation they would have interviewed Roger Underwood and the team at the BushFireFront decades ago. They could’ve interviewed the great Bill Gammage who wrote the book on indigenous fire management.

How many houses and lives would have been saved if the ABC had done the job it was supposed to do years ago, but has just barely started?

Sell the ABC and save the Koalas.



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Weekend Unthreaded

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Excuses? Coldest Summer day, Snow in Australia and suddenly BOM remembers how inadequate their equipment is…

Snow in December: Has Australia installed too many solar panels?

Snow in summer in Australia. Photo Falls Creek.

Climate Change brings summer snow to Australia

Coldest maximum summer temperature on record at Thredbo

Kate Doyle, ABC News

On Monday, the second day of summer, the temperature only reached -1 degrees Celsius at the Thredbo weather station, the coldest maximum temperature recorded anywhere in Australia during summer.

But really cold records don’t matter.  For the first time in history, Blair Trewin, Bureau of Meteorology points out how minor these daily records are:

Blair Trewin, senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, confirmed that it was a summer as well as December record but pointed out there was more to it.

“In some ways it’s not quite as impressive as it looks,” Dr Trewin said.

This is indeed the only instance of him ever saying that.

“This is because before automatic weather stations were installed in the 1990s, manual observations at high mountain sites [like the top of Thredbo, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek] were very limited outside the ski season.”

Exactly. When will Blair Trewin tell Australians that hot records are not as impressive as they look because automatic weather stations were installed in the 1990s across the whole country and ever since then a mere one second spike of heat can create a whole new “record”  which was not possible to record on glass thermometers for the 200 years before that?

This reminds us that earlier this year, when it snowed in Albany, suddenly the BOM and the ABC discovered historic colder weather records. They still haven’t found the hotter older records…

More “convenient” truths from Trewin:

He said at Thredbo they used to take observations at the top of the mountain in winter and in the village in summer.

Luckily they filed the data as separate stations so they could be differentiated, but most of the coldest mountain-top temperatures from summer before the ’90s would not have been recorded.

“This means that effectively, you’re really only looking at the coldest summer maximum of the post-1990 period,” Dr Trewin said.

We’re looking forward to someone (anyone) at the ABC asking Blair Trewin after the next “hottest ever second” whether effectively we’re only looking at the hottest day since 1996. Perhaps its possible the most remote areas were hotter in the 1800s and the Federation Drought but if they were those maxima would not have been recorded.  (Except of course when they actually were recorded. Remind us again why we ignore all the 50C plus temperatures that occurred across Australia so many years ago?)

Remember either the BOM just makes up the old hot inner desert temperatures, day after day, or the Australian desert was stuck in some kind of ground hog repeat annual weather pattern that exactly matched the Calendar year.

“We don’t have any real information about high alpine summer temperatures before then.”

Every single station in Australia has moved, changed, shrunk in size, got new equipment, or has missing data, or been mowed, ploughed, neglected, infested with wasps, paved with bitumen, got an incinerator on site, or someone built a five lane super highway or skyscraper next door. Given that, no matter what record is set anywhere, if it needs to be dismissed, the BOM can suddenly remember the history. When will Blair Trewin mention that there were just as many very hot days as recorded by the original approved BoM equipment during World War I as there are today?

If it’s a very hot day, it’s a world class system. If it’s cold, well, the data is quite short and patchy…

 As I’ve said before If the BOM was incompetent, the ABC would be the last organisation on Earth to find out.



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What do we call it when the State turns off your air conditioner? A “Peaksmart” moment

Peaksmart air conditioning.

You can’t make this stuff up.

The Government advertising bureau — the ABC — is telling Queenslanders that it’s good for them if the government switches off their air conditioning. As we pay more than ever for electricity, we also lose control of even our household appliances. If we get something back for the overpriced service, the propaganda unit calls this a payment, and a benefit. If you have a Christmas party and 30 guests and you can’t use your own air conditioner, don’t forget, the State knows best. If it causes “whitenoise” interference, adds one more failure point, or causes people to turn their air conditioners down in temperature preemptively, or program them to come on earlier, who cares?

If the ABC says something is smart, we know it’s …

Power companies will soon be paying you to cut your energy use

Stephen Long, ABC

The units installed on the walls of his apartment look the same as any other air conditioners, but there is a difference. They’re fitted with “PeakSmart” technology. It allows the electricity network company to send a signal that turns the air conditioning down for a short while during times of peak demand when the network is feeling the strain. “We cycle down the compressor, which is what creates the cooling part of the air conditioner,” says Peter Price, an executive general manager at Energy Queensland.

It’s a miracle, who needs electrons? Every day the ABC undoes something the education system tried to teach children.

“It cycles down for 20 minutes. The fan still runs, blowing out cold air. Customers don’t know that we’ve done that, but it pulls down the peak demand enough to make a difference.”

Mr Casey got a rebate that covered about half the cost of installing the air conditioners, and he’s a happy customer.

“We’ve not noticed a thing,” he tells the ABC.

About 100,000 Queensland houses already have these installed. Gone are the luxury days when consumers could control their own appliances, get cheap reliable electricity, and not need invasive, complicated schemes in order to keep some of their own money.

Demand response is coming, nationwide

Soon the rest of the nation will get a taste of what the Sunshine State has pioneered, but in an even more sophisticated form.

‘Wholesale demand response’ is coming, and it’s set to revolutionise the electricity system.

“It will be the biggest reform ever in the history of the National Electricity Network,” says Dan Cass, the energy policy lead at The Australia Institute.

The ABC appears to be writing for ten year olds.

Demand response could allow coal plants to close early

The flow-on benefits are enormous.

Enormous benefits for who? The international conglomerate renewable giants? The bureaucrats whose jobs depend on selling and managing your airconditioner use?

Most of the time Australia does not need all of the electricity that its mix of coal, gas, solar, wind and hydroelectricity is capable of supplying.

Effectively, the nation builds massive overcapacity compared to electricity demand in ordinary times to avoid power disruption on a small minority of extreme days when there is huge demand.

Effectively, the nation has paid to build an enormous overcapacity that can’t be relied upon in the hope of stopping storms and bushfires. Our entire gird generation is being doubled so half the infrastructure can run 20 – 30% of the time while the other half sits around like a deadweight costing staff, maintenance, land, and capital.

 The Peaksmart FAQs

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The half-mile electric car charging queue in the US

This could’ve been us, Australia, if Bill Shorten had won two more seats.

One week ago in California:

Tesla drivers are stranded for hours in a half-a-mile-long line

Shanon Stellini was travelling through Kettleman City on November 30 when she stumbled across a backlog of around 50 of the electric cars waiting to recharge in a half-mile line outside of at a station near Interstate 5. — Luke Kenton Daily Mail.

Tyler Durden, Zerohedge

There are now around 400,000 Teslas on the roads of the U.S. and the company’s commitment to hoarding its cash by any means necessary, including not paying bills and not investing in its Supercharger network, could finally be coming back to bite its owners in pronounced fashion.

The Kettleman City Supercharging station has 40 superchargers, is halfway between LA and San Francisco and people were returning from Thanksgiving.

Looks like Tesla owners need a back-up “baseload” type car in the garage all year to be able to enjoy those special days. There go those fuel savings.

Though they could just fly. There go those fuel savings and those emissions…

The national electric car trap: What looks cheap, sounds fashionable but will not just send you broke, it could do-over the whole nation?

Electric cars may lower our fuel bills, but make electricity, jobs, lifestyle, unaffordable. For example, one enthusiastic man in EV saved 6700L of fuel but took three years longer to get where he was going. In other achievements EV’s are already causing some grid failures in Australia (and we hardly have any EV’s). Indeed, if you really want to destroy a grid properly: add a million electric vehicles (see those deadly stats from New Zealand).

Britain can have electric cars or turn Scotland into a wind farm, which will it be then?

There’s also the futile-funny case of the diesel powered electric car charging point in Australia. Laugh til you cry…

Electric cars are perfect for socialists: they boost Big-Gov, but are worse for CO2, pollution, coal use, and the whole dang grid.  Save the world with internal combustion engines


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26,000 junkets now in Spain at the UN Climate Change COP 25. Largest delegations? Ivory Coast and Congo

Junketees are on the move

Last week tens of thousands of officials, observers, and hanger-on-erers began their annual migration. To make the journey some 26,700 climate junketees used a form of petroleum and one caught a boat. Currently they are immersed in the seasonal two-week harvest before they migrate back.  Most delegates are collecting dollars, while others provide cash and collect Global Frequent Fashion Points instead.

Ponder that 11,000 athletes took part in the last Olympic Games and that’s only held once every four years. The COP events are the Olympics of government games.

Robert McSweeney of Carbonbrief  analyzes the UN Lists to find out which countries sent the most people. This year the junketee migration largely started in Africa, was headed to Chile, but somehow ended up in Spain. In 2019 the countries saving the world were the Côte d’Ivoire with 348 delegates, and both types of Congo with 293 and 163 delegates each.

This breaks down into: 13,643 people representing specific parties, 9,987 from observer organisations – such as scientists, business groups and various non-governmental organisations – and 3,076 journalists.

Marvel that 3,000 journalists have gone there yet we already know what they will write.

It’s an odd list, but looking at the top ten tells us a lot about the Climate Industry. Follow the money…

Delegates to the UN FCCC COP 25 conference

Click to see the longer list

Commiserations to the Spanish (who are the hosts with 175 delegates) and the Canadians (with 145) and French (124) who are all supporting a large crew. On the longer list, (click to see it), the US is sending 78 (who knows why?), the UK — 48, Australia only 20 (a miracle), and New Zealand just 19. Perplexingly, a country called the European Union is sending more people than France and Germany are.

Last year Guinea sent 406 people. This year, only 159.

Carbonbrief can tell you all the details you didn’t want to know, including the exact percentage of females to males, and which ten nations are sending an equal gender mix:

There are 10 countries that have delegations with a 50-50 split, which are Spain (172 delegates in total), Mozambique (48), Poland (38), the Seychelles (34), Belize (28), Tuvalu (18), Armenia (12), the Bahamas (10), Cuba (8) and Dominica (4).

The world is at stake, but there are a Frequent Fashion Points at play here, and intersectionality “scores”. Though 50:50 sex ratios are not ideal, and the winners are the two countries with all women delegates — get ready:

Two countries have all-female delegations – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (six delegates) and Syria (one).

If you live in a rich nation, remember your taxes make this possible.


The full list of party delegations of party delegations. The UNFCCC list provides the delegate names (although only about 8,200 party delegates are named, and that’s what this graph is showing, just those named ones.)

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Takes layers of incompetence to create mindless catastrophic hyperbole

With Alarmism off the dial, it’s nice to see some pushback coming from the near end of the science-scare. If journalists had asked questions like this back in 1988, it would have been all over by 1989.

Why Climate Alarmism Hurts Us All

Media Bias, voting behaviour of journalists.Michael Shellenberger, Forbes, does some research on the wilder climate claims. What a novel experiment!  He gets answers (at least for now) by taking the line, as he says in his twitter account, “Climate change is real but there’s NO SCIENCE for apocalyptic claims”. So he’s a believer that is concerned about the needless rising anxiety and panic.

When the media says “billions will die” Shellenberger wanted to know why. He just pulled on that string and it all unravelled…

It takes a layers of incompetence to wind up an atmospheric spectral change into Death To Billions. Mass delusion and catastrophic hyperbole just doesn’t come from nowhere — it’s starts with incompetent scientists who never ask each other hard questions, not even in the tea rooms. They tell journalists ambiguously phrased, cherry picked lines which are then amped up by the media, who also ask no hard questions and go on to misquote and exaggerate. By then it’s a junkyard of science communication, and that’s when attention-seeking zealots get hold of what they thought were scientific pronouncements and turn them into bumper stickers of enviro-biblical jello.

Firstly the worst quotes come from an XR Activist, not a scientist (why do the media repeat these claims?).

Shellenberger just followed the claims:

I wanted to know what Extinction Rebellion was basing its apocalyptic claims upon, and so I interviewed its main spokesperson, Sarah Lunnon.

“It’s not Sarah Lunnon saying billions of people are going to die,” Lunnon told me. ”The science is saying we’re headed to 4 degrees warming and people like Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Center and Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research are saying that such a temperature rise is incompatible with civilized life. Johan said he could not see how an Earth at 4 degrees (Celsius) warming could support a billion or even half-billion people.”

Lunnon is referring to an article published in The Guardian last May, which quoted Rockström saying, “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that” at a 4-degree temperature rise.

So the XR activist thought it was from a scientist. But when Shellenberger interviewed the scientists it turned out they didn’t say that (well, not exactly):

 Rockström… told me that the Guardian reporter had misunderstood him and that he had said, “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate eight billion people or even half of that,” not “a billion people.”

So The Guardian had to make a correction — not 7.5 billion deaths then, only 4 billion (well, that’s alright then?):

Rockström said he had not seen the misquote until I emailed him, and that he had requested a correction, which the Guardian made last Thursday. Even so, Rockström stood by his prediction of four billion deaths.

But note the caveats, it’s not the evidence he has, but the evidence he doesn’t, and it’s not that he’s sure, in his judgement, he’s doubtful:

“I don’t see scientific evidence that a four-degree celsius planet can host eight billion people,” he said. “This is, in my assessment, a scientifically justified statement, as we don’t have evidence that we can provide freshwater or feed or shelter today’s world population of eight billion in a four-degree world. My expert judgment, furthermore, is that it may even be doubtful if we can host half of that, meaning four billion.”

Rockström said half of Earth’s surface would be uninhabitable, people would be forced to migrate to the poles, and other shocks and stressors would result from heatwaves and rising sea levels.

So Shellenberger, bless him, asks the obvious questions that almost no journalist on Earth has asked:

But is there IPCC science showing that food production would actually decline? “As far as I know they don’t say anything about the potential population that can be fed at different degrees of warming,” he said.  Has anyone, I asked, done a study of what happens to food production at 4 degrees warming?

And the expert admits he hadn’t really thought of that:

“That’s a good question,” said Rockström, who is an agronomist. “I must admit I have not seen a study. It seems like such an interesting and important question.”

The expert agronomist?

Shellenberger gives him the bad news that warming won’t kill as many people as climate policies will:

In fact, scientists, including two of Rockström’s colleagues at the Potsdam Institute, recently modeled food production.

Their main finding was that climate change policies are more likely to hurt food production and worsen rural poverty than climate change itself, even at 4 to 5 degrees warming.

The “climate policies” the authors refer to are ones that would make energy more expensive and result in more bioenergy (the burning of biofuels and biomass), which would increase land scarcity and drive up food costs.

Similarly, UN Food and Agriculture concludes that food production will rise 30 percent by 2050 unless “sustainable practices” are adopted in which case it would rise just 10 to 20 percent. Technological change significantly outweighs climate change in every single one of FAOs scenarios.

A great piece of work by Michael Shellenberger. Journalism students will study it a hundred years from now, wondering how it all got so stupid…

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Midweek Unthreaded

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Russians spent $95 million to NGOs to feed “shale fear” and anti-fracking campaigns. Most of the West fell for it…

Russia makes about $300 billion in gas and oil exports each year. For a tiny tenth of a billion dollars it fed western activists in NGOs* and successfully stopped fracking development in the UK (and some parts of Australia apparently). It’s what you call a stupendous investment.

Matt Ridley lays out just how game changing the discovery of shale fracking could have been for the UK, and how easily the politicians and system was exploited and fell over:

The Plot against Fracking, The Critic

When the shale gas revolution first came along, some environmentalists welcomed it, and rightly so. …

But then the vested interests got to work. Renewable energy promoters panicked at the thought of cheap and abundant gas.

The Russians also lobbied behind the scenes against shale gas, worried about losing their grip on the world’s gas supplies.

 It’s all so predictable…

The Centre for European Studies found that the Russian government has invested $95 million in NGOs campaigning against shale gas. Russia Today television ran endless anti-fracking stories, including one that “frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles”. The US Director of National Intelligence stated that “RT runs anti-fracking programming … reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.” Pro-Russian politicians such as Lord Truscott (married to a Russian army colonel’s daughter) made speeches in parliament against fracking.

Stories of tapwater on fire and other ludicrous misinformation fed doubts and protests, and the conservatives folded like a pop-up beach tent.

As night follows day, Tory politicians lost courage and slipped into neutrality then opposition, worrying about what posh greens might think, rather than working-class bill-payers and job-seekers. A golden opportunity was squandered for Britain to get hold of home-grown, secure, cheap and relatively clean energy. We don’t need fossil fuels, the politicians thought, we’re going for net zero in 2050! But read the small print, chaps: the only way to have zero-emission transport and heating, so says the Committee on Climate Change, is to use lots of hydrogen. And how do they say most of the hydrogen is to be made? From gas.

 The industry was badgered into agreeing to silly targets:

Despite being told by the Advertising Standards Authority to withdraw misleading claims about shale gas, [Friends of the Earth] kept up a relentless campaign of misinformation, demanding more delay and red tape from all-too-willing civil servants. The industry, with Cuadrilla fated to play the part of Monsanto, agreed to ridiculously unrealistic limits on what kinds of tremors they were allowed after being promised by the government that the limits would be changed later — a promise since broken. Such limits would stop most other industries, even road haulage, in their tracks.

 It wouldn’t have worked if the West had good media, and if schools taught students how to spot con artists, witchcraft and fake reasoning.

 Read it all, and weep…

h/t GWPF

*NGO’s meaning Non Government Organisations (which are often really more like a wing of the State, but without the accountability…)


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Climate Change is sexist

Wired reports that Climate Change is worse for women

Who knew? Not only are all past droughts and floods wiped from history apparently climate change makes men invisible too:

The struggles are coming fast, and they’re coming hard. For farmers, drought or even just less reliable rainfall means crop failure and less water for cattle. Landslides from stronger monsoons wipe away farmland. Living alongside rivers is increasingly perilous, as stronger—yet often less frequent—storms flood communities.

So men walk 120 extra kilometers and women walk 30 fewer kilometers, and this is “worse for women”:

All terrible crises in their own right, but exacerbated by underlying societal norms. In East Africa, for instance, men in pastoral communities have traditionally wandered 15, maybe 30 kilometers from home in search of water for their cattle, returning to their families periodically. But with climate change, now they’re having to travel up to 150 kilometers. Before, women would go with the men and milk the cattle, using the product both for their family’s own nutrition and as an extra source of income, and heading home as needed. Now that the men have to cover much greater distances, the women end up staying at home base, thus losing out on the invaluable resource that is milk.

Men are forced to live in strange towns far from their families. But who needs families anyhow?

In India, the dynamics are even more complicated. Anticipating lower yields, men may plant seeds and get the crop going, then migrate away to find work in factories or on construction sites. Left with these new farming duties, on top of childcare and other household responsibilities, women struggle to support the family. Their agency slips farther and farther away as the family’s plight grows.

And men are simply bread-winning robots.

The author is Matt Simon a science journalist at WIRED, where he covers biology, robotics, cannabis, and the environment. This could be the blinding culture of political correctness, or in some part, just the hunt for status-points in the pecking order competition to impress the girls. Its so “fashionable” to show how much he cares for women. Too bad if it comes at the expense of third world men.

Amazing, the places political correctness takes us. To misandrist, anti-science, self-serving corners of the mind.


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ABC discovers data (on facebook) showing wet rainforest has not burned once, ever, or at all, in “tens of millions” of years

This is striking new finding by ABC journalist Ann Arnold that for some reason has not yet been published in a science journal.

Some mystery remains, however as to which dataset could rule out any and all fires in the last 30,000,000 years, or indeed which dataset could prove that those forests and trees have existed in the same place continuously. We keenly await more details on the high resolution sedimentary pollen and missing ash deposit that could show that there were never fires, not one, especially during the Miocene when Antarctica thawed around 24 million years ago and stayed hot for ten million continuous years.

It’s all the more remarkable given that temperatures have varied in the Antarctic by 15 degrees Celcius over the same period, and for 20 million years out of the last 30, it was even hotter than today.

Scientists keenly look forward to seeing those error bars, though one critic, Dr Hyperbowlie suggested the p-values “might be greater than 1. ”

Bushfires devastate rare and enchanting wildlife as ‘permanently wet’ forests burn for first time

Ann Arnold, ABC, Saturday Extra

These forests have legendary fire retardant status. If only we could bottle it!

The rainforests along the spine of the Great Dividing Range, between the Hunter River and southern Queensland, are remnants of Gondwana, the ancient supercontinent that broke up about 180 million years ago.

Ahh. Not sediments, but sedimentary song. This is history according to 30 million year old birds:

“Listening to the dawn chorus in these forests is literally an acoustic window back in time,” ecologist Mark Graham tells RN’s Saturday Extra.

“It’s like listening to what the world sounded like in the time of the dinosaurs.”

The forests are mountaintop islands that have been “permanently wet” for tens of millions of years.

But now, these forests are being burnt for the first time.

“We are seeing fire going into these areas where fire is simply not meant to go,” says Mr Graham,

Which extraordinary scientist is Mr Graham? He’s a fire specialist with the Nature Conservation Council. which bills itself as “The voice of Nature in NSW”.

Warning, this kind of journalism kills ancient songbirds and enchanting frogs

The Albert’s Lyre Bird. The Rufous Scrub Bird. The Log Runner. The Tree Creeper. And, confusingly, the Cat Bird; a large, green rainforest bird that wails like a cat.

They are internationally renowned. Birders from around the world come to see and hear them.

“These are global strongholds of the most ancient birds on the planet,” Mr Graham says.

The billion dollar ABC, again, acts as the free publicity arm of every two-bit green NGO, repeating their press releases without a single question. That is, “on a good day”. On a bad day, the ABC picks up their profane facebook comments and calls it “science”.

Seriously, I’m quoting Ann Arnold as she pours liquid hydrogen on a media circus with fake factoids from facebook. You can’t make up satire like this:

He [Mark Graham] wants to present only the facts, and avoid fuelling a media and political circus around the fires.

But the marathon toll of anxiety, threat and loss is exhausting, as evidenced by a recent post he made on Facebook, at 2.30am:

“Friends. Shit is getting well-serious.

“I am at my place at the very top of the Bellinger Valley. Smoke has completely saturated everything for days now.

“Most of this evening I have heard the wind absolutely roaring on the escarpment above. These beasts are inexorably heading for Point Lookout and New England National Park — the biggest and healthiest chunk of Gondwana.

“There are no words that can describe the significance, enormity and horror of what now looks highly likely to happen … Rain, RAIN … RAIN …”

So much for the well funded ABC Science Unit. Ann was just one email away from specialist science communicators. Where was their apoplexy?

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