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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Announcing BomWatch: Auditing the fake warming created by site changes near the Great Barrier Reef

Fake Warming in Queensland: The BOM says the sites didn’t move, but photos show they did.

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Map, Satellite view.

The warming at these four sites alongside the Great Barrier Reef is due to site changes, incompetence, poor record keeping and “adjustments”. Map: Terrametrics, Map data Google 2020

All along the coast near the Great Barrier Reef, the BOM has claimed temperatures have warmed in the last 50 years, and they’ve calculated it to a tenth of a degree. To get that kind of accuracy the thermometers need to be carefully placed, and the BOM needs to know exactly where they were, but they don’t.

The BOM keeps long pages of site descriptions and exact dates of moves and equipment changes, but historic photos show the records are wrong. The BOM will solemnly swear a site was in the same place for decades but photographs and archives show the sites were often moved as developments sprang up around them. The BOM didn’t keep the records and didn’t bother to check. If the thermometer moved to a warmer location or it warmed because they replaced the standard 230-litre Stevenson screen with a 60-litre toy one, or no longer cleaned it of dust and grime that’s climate change at work (Ka-Ching).  There’s probably a thermometer 500km away that can be used to “correct” the record. (Like say, Coen or Musgrave which are used to “adjust” Cairns and are 452 km and 746 km away!).  Near enough’s rough enough! Homogenisation is fatally flawed and should be abandoned.

“The notion that the Great Barrier Reef is threatened by climate change and warming depends on incompetent records, unjustifiable ‘corrections’, super-sensitive thermometers in smaller boxes, and neglected sites” says Johnston.

Dr Bill Johnston has done the work documenting our sites that the million-dollar-a-day Bureau of Meteorology can’t find time to do. He uses aerial and satellite photos as well as ground based shots from the national archives. The BOM says the climate is the most important issue for life on Earth, but it isn’t important enough for the BOM to find the archived photos and documents that show the thermometers kept moving and the area around the thermometers kept changing.

If Blair Trewin and the Bureau director Dr Andrew Johnson had even the slightest interest in the Australian climate they would welcome the dedicated, historical work of Dr Johnston with a big thank you. Instead the BOM stopped answering questions, and Bill Johnston finds it difficult to get published anymore in meteorology journals. As the Bureau became an advertising agency for Big Government projects, the  scientific evidence apparently became a pain in the neck.

The same team that holds the raw data and the metadata, is also the same team that analyses it and makes political statements it. They are the only ones who know what the instruments are really measuring, they won’t explain in full how they adjust it. The raw data is deleted. The methods are a secret, and the team have become unaudited political actors.

So Bill Johnston has started publishing his meticulous work on his own website. There are four stations there and so many more to come. A life’s expertise and several years of work, done unpaid. The BOM say they are independent, but they are totally dependent on Big Gov for their existence. Bill Johnston really is independent. It’s cost him to publish this and do this work, but he’s done it anyway.

Say hello to BoMWatch!

 BoMWatch:  Climate of the Great Barrier Reef

Press Release June 5th, 2020

“Despite all the catastrophism and free money, there is no evidence that the climate of the Great Barrier Reef has changed or is likely to change in the future”, says Bill Johnston.

Dr Johnston uses maps and plans from the National Archives and National Library of Australia and aerial photographs and satellite images to check if changes in temperature data align with site changes detailed by Bureau of Meteorology site-summary and ACORN-SAT (Australian Climate Observations Reference Network – Surface Air Temperature) metadata.

The site at Gladstone has changed dramatically from 1965 to 2016.

See the slower transition here.

BoMWatch: Gladstone

He has investigated and analyzed more than 300 of Australia’s most important long term sites, and 80 of supposedly top notch ACORN-SAT sites (which is about 75% of them).

Across Australia no sites have stayed the same. They’ve moved, the original 230-litre Stevenson screens have been replaced with more responsive 60-litre ones; automatic weather stations (AWS) have replaced thermometers; new sites have opened using PVC-screens in the hottest places they could find; observers have gone and they scrimp and save by not mowing the grass or cleaning equipment of dust and grime. “Australia’s warming is mostly due to poor maintenance and electronic thermometers operating in small Stevenson screens”, Dr. Johnston said.

“Evidence that the Bureau adjusts their datasets to support the warming narrative is unequivocal” Bill said; “sometimes they recognise a site change, sometimes they don’t; it’s a non-random pattern.  Many forgotten site changes create a trend they can blame on the climate”.

“Furthermore, as AWS are hard-wired to Melbourne,  Weather language has also changed. “They cook-up a record wherever you are and the weather is always extreme”, Bill said.

“Photographs, aerodrome plans and documents show metadata relied on to make adjustments are faulty and misleading”, said Bill. “For instance, at Gladstone, they replaced the radar; cleared the bush and installed a 60-litre screen 30-metres away; sacked the staff, demolished the office and its unsurprising that as instruments are no longer regularly serviced and cleaned, temperature has increased relative to the climate”.

It’s a debacle up at Cairns as well. They didn’t know what happened at the Post Office or that the original aerodrome site was located beside the old apron. They said that in December 1992 the site moved 1.5 km northwest (to the other side of the runway). However, they forgot that it moved to a mound near the centre of the airport in 1966 and that it moved again before September 1983. Also, as one was bulldozed to build the other and no data was missing, another site must have opened in the interim.

The 60L boxes are too small to allow all the equipment to operate at it’s best. The highly sensitive electronic thermometers at the back are barely 2cm away from the hotter north facing side of the screen. They will record one second spikes in temperature, and the Bureau of Meteorology accepts these spurious spikes as new “hottest day ever” records.


Townsville Screen, Thermometers, Stevenson, Bureau of Meteorology.

Inside the crowded little 60-litre screen at Townsville. Note the electronic thermometers at the back are about 2 cm closer to the north facing rear of the screen than maximum and minimum thermometers are; which is enough to make them warmer on warm days. Photo courtesy of BoM (

The Bureau claims the Townsville airport weather station has absolutely not moved: “There are no documented moves until one of 200 m northeast on 8 December 1994”. However, the site moved at least three, possibly four times while it was on the eastern side of the main runway and probably twice between January 1970 when it moved to a mound on the western side and the most recent move to the AWS. “By pretending the site didn’t move before 1994, they attributed trends and changes in the data to the climate”, Bill said.

Similarly at Rockhampton, where before it moved to a mound near the middle of the airport in about 1956, the original Stevenson screen was near the airport’s northern boundary beside the USAAF garrison and canteen. Warming caused by a satellite communications module installed close-by the second site in 1986 was ignored to imply it was due to the climate.

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Thursday Open Thread

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A cold snap in Queensland cut the state’s solar power to just 5% of its average daily output

As Paul McArdle of WattClarity says: “the NEM* is becoming increasingly dependent on the weather

Saturday week ago in Queensland was cold enough to break records. Brisbane “only” made it up to 17.9C (64F). It hasn’t been that cold there in May for 40 years. At the same time a band of cloud covered the populated slice of the state.

The cloud cover meant all the large solar “farms” in Queensland — with a total rated capacity of 1.7GW — produced only 79MW as an aggregate average daily output.

 Sunshine State forgets its own branding on Saturday 23rd May 2020

Averaged across the 24 hours in the day yesterday, average aggregate output across all of the Large Solar plant in QLD was a very meagre 79MW only:

1a)  Dividing this by an aggregate 1,664MW installed capacity* across the Large Solar plant in QLD this represents a capacity factor the day of just 4.7%

Not surprisingly the same clouds that ruined the large solar farms also wrecked the rooftop solar.

One in three homes in Queensland have solar panels. With 1.8GW of theoretical capacity, rooftop solar is Queenslands largest generator (except it hardly ever produces that much). At its peak in January the Qld solar farms worked at 31% of capacity. That’s a big slice of generation that may or may not be there.

There goes another Gigawatt — there one day and gone the next:

As Rafe Champion would say, “this was a chokepoint for solar”. We have to have the backups there to cover the worst days — even if the bad days are only a few days a year.

McArdle estimates that Queenslanders used 17% more electricity that day than the Saturday a week earlier. It was cold (for Queenslanders) so power use went up at the same time as clouds cut the states main generator. When clouds rolled into Alice Springs, they ended up with a nine hour blackout. That didn’t happen in Queensland, but there are five million people who depend on electricity there. There are similar warnings about clouds and solar power causing blackouts in Western Australia.

Coal was, of course, what saved Queensland:

Queensland Electricity Generation , May 23 2020

Watch the Australian experiment

If you think this is crazy, worse is coming. Wikipedia has a list of QLD solar farms. Ominously,  another 1.7GW are under construction and another 8GW have been approved. All of which would have been useless together on May 23rd.

Hey, but it’s only one day. They could just close some factories.

For those wondering if Queensland just needs to build some more solar plants “out west”, remember that generators need to be closer to the demand, and regional generators have been punished by price reductions because of the inevitable transmission losses. It’s just not economic to build far distant solar panel farms that earn less per MW than farms near cities. (Not that it’s economic to build solar farms near cities either.) Solar panels are so uncompetitive in 2016 the National Govt allocated $100m to set up 482MW of solar capacity throughout Australia. That was on top of the giant national RET scheme.

But let’s not forget the reason we are building solar panels in the first place: to change the weather.

To that end, consider that 2 million expensive solar panels cut Australian total CO2 emissions by a tiny 1%

Everything you don’t want to know about Solar power in Australia



*NEM. National Electricity Market. (Australian Eastern States Grid from SA to QLD and Tasmania).

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Sweden is trapped in an interminable deadly half-lockdown

The Swedish soft lockdown will cost a lot more in the long run

Despite the relaxed approach, Sweden still had major changes in behaviour and movement patterns. The “half lockdown” may have stopped the exponential growth, but it wasn’t enough to reduce the spread. So Sweden is now trapped into maintaining some kind of isolation measures for months while other countries open up around them, and possibly, fly right over.

Norway’s sharp hard action and closed borders cost more in the short run, but they are now tracking towards zero cases and recovery beckons. Sweden has twice as many cases per capita as Norway, and ten times as many deaths, and there’s little sign the new infections are declining, nor that herd immunity is close. Antibody tests show that by late April only 7% of Stockholm may have been exposed to the virus, much less than the 20+ percent that the Swedish Chief Epidemiologist was expecting. 

In the graph below the number of cases are on the same scale, though Sweden has twice the population. Given that viruses grow and decline on exponential scales, the Swedish curve could have still shrunk almost as fast as it rose — like Norway’s did.

Sweden compared to the UK, Covid-19, graph.

Sweden (grey) population 10 million, compared to Norway (red) population 5 million. Click to enlarge.

Norway: 12 days after major quarantine measures the curve gets crushed

In Norway, major lockdowns were announced on March 15, with headlines like: “Norway takes most far-reaching measures ever experienced in peacetime over coronavirus”.… and new daily cases peaked 12 days later on March 27th.

Norway is planning to reopen flights with Denmark and Finland on June 15. But the three Scandinavian countries will exclude Sweden for the moment because there are too many infections.

As other countries have reduced their cases and their deaths Sweden has risen to the top of the daily death rate chart in Europe.

Sweden’s coronavirus experiment has well and truly failed

Amit Katwala, Wired

The way the Swedish response has been structured has made the country more resistant to changing tack during the epidemic. Sweden’s expert agencies are kept quite separate from the government, which is generally a good thing, because it means that scientific issues don’t become politicised. “But if the expert agency is making bad decisions there is nothing to counter it,” [Lena Einhorn, a virologist and author] points out.

Swedes are generally more trusting of authority and science than those in other countries, he adds. Despite recent murmurings of disquiet, the agency remains broadly popular among the public – and Tegnell has become something of a cult figure in Sweden, with toasts on his birthday and people getting tattoos of his face. But that’s been part of the problem. “The biggest problem in Sweden is there is really only one voice – that voice is the public health agency, and in particular Anders Tegnell,” Einhorn says.

h/t Travis T Jones.

Mobility in Sweden was reduced by about half compared to reductions in Norway and London

Apple iPhone data suggests that requests for directions on public transport may have been reduced by nearly half in Stockholm. This compares to a 70% reduction in Oslo, Norway and the 85% fall in London, UK. See the graphs below.  These are requests for directions. They aren’t passenger records, and people doing regular trips probably don’t use them. But we can see that whatever the change in behaviour was in London, it was less severe in Norway, and about half in Stockholm.

Oslo Apple Traffic, graph, coronavirus, lockdown, data.

Oslo Apple traffic data

Pandemics cause economic pain regardless of what governments do

Even if the government doesn’t mandate restrictions, apparently many people choose to stay home anyway. This is what we see in Sweden.

Oslo Apple Traffic, graph, coronavirus, lockdown, data.

Stockholm Apple traffic data

Oslo Apple Traffic, graph, coronavirus, lockdown, data.

London Apple traffic data

Mobility Aps are an imperfect proxy for the economy. But there are at least some reports that suggest there is an economic pain in Sweden and claim a lot of people are out of work. By some estimates 17% of the workforce in Sweden is either unemployed or counted in the government furlough program.


The UK compared to Sweden

Even the UK, which was caught unprepared and with a high density population, is managing to reduce the spread. The late start meant the UK ended up with a dreadful tally, and had to do some of the most severe restrictions of the three. But even so, and even with the sabotage of open borders bringing in 10,000 people a day, the UK has gradually cut their 5,000 new cases a day down to one third of that.

Beware — there are two different scales on the graph below. (!) The UK population is six times larger than Sweden, it had ten times as many cases at the peak, but putting them on the same scale makes it hard to compare the shape of the curves.

The effects of the harder lockdown in the UK show in May. Daily new cases in the UK are now a third of what they were at the peak.


Sweden compared to the UK, Coronavirus, Graph.

Sweden (grey) compared to the UK (blue). Note the diffent scales, the UK daily cases are 10 times higher than Sweden. | Worldometer: UK peak daily infections


The UK decline in cases would have been faster if the borders in the UK were not open. Plane traffic into the UK was hugely reduced, but there were still 10,000 arrivals a day, bringing in something like 300 new infections a day which would go on to infect another 600 people before that line of infection died out. (This is assuming an Ro of 0.7 for the UK as estimated by Imperial College). So the UK tally was effectively inflated by 900 new cases a day, which made the severe lockdown much less effective, and not surprisingly draining enthusiasm.

I remain baffled that any government would demand 60 million people stay strictly at home while allowing foreigners to fly in without mandatory quarantine.The UK Swamp-Expert advisor were clearly thinking of ‘herd immunity” when they modeled some excuses not to close the borders.  It is almost a form of sabotage. The economic advantage of letting sick people fly in without putting them in mandatory hotel isolation must be a tiny fraction of the lockdown cost. It makes no sense and would burn through the patience and social capital of the UK people.

Sweden also kept borders open which presumably must work against the 50% lockdown. It would be good to have flight data in Sweden.

Citimapper Ap Data

Many media outlets have used the Citymapper Ap data, so I’ve included that here.

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Tuesday Open Thread

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Ivermectin, kills headlice and also coronavirus in a few early trials

Remember the Japanese wonder drug Ivermectin that killed Coronavirus in the lab? Some trials on patients in Bangladesh and the US are showing some promise. This is the drug I called “sheep dip” (but which is really more of a cow or horse drench now). It’s famous for stopping River Blindness and saving the eyesight of thousands. It’s also used against  roundworms, lungworms, mites, lice, scabies and hornflies, as well as cattle-ticks. So it’s another drug, like hydroxycholoroquine that has been road tested for safety’s sake up the kazoo.

The cost of Ivermectin is around 15c in the third world, and $50 for one round for a human in New York.  (But even that is a lot cheaper than a $5000 a day ICU bed.)

As I said — there may come a day when you can cure coronavirus and treat the kids headlice at the same time.  Handy.

So it’s good to know some trials are occurring, and even better to know that some doctors are very enthusiastic about the results. In terms of medical clinical trials, these are small. I’m not sure the enthusiasm is matched by the data. I’d only say “it’s not dead yet”. But in terms of drug testing, that’s an achievement. Here’s hoping it can live up to these plans.

[UPDATE: Some readers missed the meaning in the paragraph above, so I bolded it. If anyone thinks I'm raving about these small anecdotal reports, read the line above . - Jo]

But if Coronavirus can be treated with a common mass produced, safety tested chemical, some Big Vaccine makers might not be as enthusiastic.

Breakthrough drug Ivermectin shows “astounding” results

Friday 22nd May,  David Patten, NewsMax

Reports Friday from multiple trials in the United States and abroad indicate a drug already approved by the FDA to treat parasitic infections is showing “astounding” results, and could represent a breakthrough in efforts to vanquishing the SARS-CoV-2 virus at the heart of the global pandemic.

Emergency medical physician Dr. Peter H. Hibberd, M.D., of Palm Beach County, Florida, told Newsmax Friday evening in an exclusive interview that he’s optimistic the drug will prove to be an important therapeutic advance, although he expects more trials will be needed before it wins FDA approval for use as a COVID-19 medication.

“There’s a common denominator here,” said Hibberd. “This drug is salvaging people from their death bed.”

In some cases, doctors reported just one dose of ivermectin markedly improved a patient’s condition. U. S. patients received a single oral dose, and some of them received a booster dose seven days later. The FDA-approved dose for parasitic infections was used.


Bangladesh medical team says Ivermectin with antibiotic Doxycycline works to treat COVID-19 patients

“We have got astounding results. Out of 60 COVID-19 patients, all recovered as the combination of the two drugs were applied”, said Professor Dr Md Tarek Alam, the head of medicine department at private Bangladesh Medical College Hospital (BMCH).

My team was prescribing the two medicines only for coronavirus patients, most of them initially reporting with respiratory problems with related complaints, later to be tested COVID-19 positive, he said.

Bangladesh has so far reported 20,995 coronavirus cases. A total of 314 people have lost their lives in the country due to the disease.

The death rate in Bangladesh then is around 1.4% of known cases. No clues there either.

ICMR to review ‘wonder’ drug combo used to treat Covid patients in Bangladesh

According to doctors in Bangladesh, the combination of ivermectin and doxycycline is an effective treatment against Covid-19, with patients recovering within four days.

h/t Keith Harrison, Bill in Oz, Chad, Dave in the states, NezySquared, Another Ian.

 UPDATE: The early lab tests implied we would need to use Ivermectin at an impossibly high dose to get the effect we want. After the Monash paper suggested the drug was reducing viral titres by 5,000 fold, another paper quickly replied that the approved dose of Ivermectin [would] not [be] useful in treating Covid-19. That headline desperately needed a verb of some sort. I added the “would be” which tells the audience that this response came from modeling and estimates, not from any patient data. It’s a theoretical response, not an observed one. It’s a lesson that in humans, we just have to do the testing in vivo.  h/t Peter F


Caly, L. et al (2020) The FDA-approved Drug Ivermectin inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro

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Israel, Costa Rica, aim to be new quarantine-free travel bubble hubs from Aust-NZ to Europe

Global flight routes are getting remapped as countries close-to-zero start talking about connecting up without that pesky two-week quarantine.

An advantage of doing lockdown properly is getting free of it faster.

European gateway Israel and Costa Rica rush to join plans for Australia-New Zealand tourism bubble

Clare Armstrong, David Aidone, James MacSmith, News Corp Australia Network

Plans have been launched for a quarantine-free gateway to Europe through Israel by December, and a long-haul flight to Costa Rica, as countries that have managed COVID-19 effectively race to join Australia and New Zealand’s tourism bubble proposal.

Israel wants to schedule a permanent flight to its economic hub of Tel Aviv from either Sydney or Melbourne to open itself up as a stepping stone to ‘safe’ European countries including Norway, Denmark, Greece and the Czech Republic.

There are also reports some Pacific Islands, such as Fiji, could be included in a trans-Tasman bubble.

While the timeline includes the Pacific Islands, it has been labelled “aspirational” and the NZ and Australian government will make the final call.

Meanwhile, discounted plane tickets and free accommodation are among perks that will be offered to travellers as countries ease border restrictions.

Countries with plenty of virus could always travel freely to other countries with plenty of virus. But the country with the most infections, or the worst hospitals, gets the better deal.

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Weekend Unthreaded


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Trump is the only president in history who won’t leave the office richer

The seed for every advert for the Donald Trump Campaign is somewhere in there.

Trump is the only president in history who didn’t need to be President to be rich and famous

… so rich he already had his own plane and may have had to settle for a smaller one to take office.

There is something to be said for electing leaders who are so wealthy they are hard to buy off.

Charlie Kirk speaking.

UPDATE: For readers wondering why this is on a science blog, or relevant to Australia…

Establishment science is a Swamp.

Imagine Australia standing up to China in a world where the US is poorer, the Swamp is stronger, and the UN is in charge?

The Lucky Bubble we live in floats in a house The West built.

h/t Stephen Harper

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Victorian lockdown worked: it stopped community transmission of Covid

Science before politics

Some are claiming the Victorian lockdown was too late, saying the rate of spread was already suppressed before it started. But that misses the point that slowing flight arrivals was responsible for most of the suppression up to that point, but that wasn’t going to stop the rising cases of community transmission. To judge if lockdown works, we need to look at domestic spread.

The graph that matters are the new daily cases, and even more so, the graph of daily new cases due to of community transmission (below).

Victoria started a major lockdown on March 24th when schools were largely closed (except to essential workers) and only essential services were allowed to run. We see daily new cases peaked 11 3 days lateralmost exactly as expected (We expect a 12 day delay as seen in Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea and Norway). The 12 day average expected lag comes from a five day average incubation and then a roughly seven day lag for new cases to get into breathing trouble and get tested as such. In Victoria, the case numbers were  dominated by incoming arrivals, so the timing of border closures determined the daily new cases peak.

*POST CORRECTION!: Ignore this graph which was shown here which didn’t show the peak at all (it has the wrong date scale). It was irrelevant. Instead look at the community transmission graph below.  h/t to Chris who emailed.

Most of the early spread was from foreign arrivals

Lockdown is aimed to slow community spread, not to stop the importation of cases from interstate. International flight arrivals had been asked to self-quarantine from mid March, but from March 29th it became mandatory and enforced. So people flying in before this date would have potentially been able to spread infections, and the lockdown would have slowed that. (For readers overseas, lockdowns here were never as strict as Spain or Italy).

The rate of community transmission spread slowed decisively off the exponential curve on April 11th  — 18 days later. Was that delayed because people with infections went home and shared the virus with people they lived with for one more week? If they had been put in hospital or isolated, would that growth have stopped after 12 days and not 18? I don’t know. Only detailed contact tracing would give us the answer.

Nonetheless, it’s clearly not true that lockdown was instigated too late to help.


Coronavirus, Lockdown, Covid19, Graph, Victoria, Community transmission.

Community transmission of Coronavirus in Victoria Australia  |   Source: Covid19data

It’s worth knowing that quarantine measures were ramping up throughout March

The Citymobility graph shows that Australians gradually slid into a full lockdown from March 11th – March 25th. Presumably the early Re of 11 days (mentioned below) was slower than other nations partly because of there were already measures in place, and partly due to the hot dry weather, and high Vit D levels at the end of summer.

Mobility in Australia, Lockdown. Sydney Melbourne.

Australians gradually slowed down from March 11 to March 25th.  |  NewDaily

The new Seeman et al study looks at the changes in the viral genome and considered cases up to April 14th, so it doesn’t include cases potentially spreading in early April that were not diagnosed til after April 15. It helps to trace some unknown contacts and clusters.

The paper’s authors say the social restrictions reduced the spread around three days after the Stage 3 restrictions came into action:

 The birth-death skyline model suggested a considerable change in Re around 27th March (CI: 23rd – 31st March). Prior to 27th March, the estimated Re was 1.63 (CI: 1.45 – 1.8) with a subsequent decrease to 0.48 (CI: 0.27 – 0.69) after this time (Figure 4). Our estimated Re prior to the 27th March implied an epidemic doubling time of 11 days (CI: 8.3 – 14.4 days) The sampling proportion parameter (the probability of successfully sequencing an infected case) after the identification of the first case in Victoria was estimated at 0.88

Looking at the genetic diversity of the virus suggests the rate of spread decreased after Stage 3 was introduced.

Third, prior to the implementation of enhanced (stage 3) restrictions in Victoria, we identified a large genomic cluster (the largest in our dataset, comprising 75 cases) associated with several social venues in metropolitan Melbourne. This finding demonstrates the propensity for chains of SARS-CoV-2 transmission throughout urban areas associated with leisure activities and provides additional justification for the unprecedented population-level social restrictions in our setting. Further genomic support for the effectiveness of social restrictions is provided by our phylodynamic analysis, which demonstrates a decrease in Re, after the introduction of stage 3 restrictions (including mandatory quarantine in hotels for overseas returnees), from 1.63 to 0.48.

Lockdowns work, but that doesn’t mean all types lockdowns are worth it

The debate needs to move on. Lockdowns slow the spread of airborne disease. This is not to say that everything about lockdowns is necessary or effective or that all measures should continue. There was hypocrisy, inconsistency, and contradiction writ large. The aim is always to minimize. We now know that golf and outdoor activities like beaches are a low risk activity. We now know that children are not major spreaders like they are in nearly every other respiratory disease. We didn’t know that then.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but only the psychic, not the scientific, knew the answers in March.

The evidence that lockdowns slow transmission of disease is now overwhelming. In nearly every country, the effect of increased lockdown became evident in the daily new cases curve about 12 days after it was started. The rate of influenza and other respiratory disease has ALSO been reduced by an extraordinary 85% across 17 different countries. But countries with half-baked lockdowns, or lockdowns sabotaged by open borders, haven’t controlled the virus and are suffering longer outbreaks with more deaths and longer disruption — that’s Sweden, UK, US, Canada, and Brazil.

The question that matters is: which parts of lockdown are worth it?

In Victoria 60% of cases came from overseas, so quarantining flight arrivals made the biggest difference to the rate of growth. But contact with a confirmed case, and unknown (community spread) cases were starting to grow exponentially too, and were only a few weeks behind.

Because the flights were not quarantined til too late, the expensive Stage 2 restrictions were needed, and possibly the Stage 3 as well. The graph below is unusual — it’s marked from “first day of symptoms,” not from detection. There is an average of five days of asymptomatic incubation. So cases in this graph were seeded, on average, five days earlier. What matters is the drop in infections five days or so after new restrictions are brought in. There is a drop visible five days after Stage two was introduced, and another drop again five days after Stage 3 came in, but the numbers are statistically small. (Bad for maths, but good for Victoria).

Stage 1 included early school holidays — effectively a school closure, so it was quite a high level of restriction.

 From Seemann et al: The graph of “first day of symptoms”

Victoria, graph, covid infections, lockdown stages.

Epidemic curve of COVID-19 cases, by putative mode of acquisition, and implementation of key public health interventions, Victoria, Australia, 06 January – 14 April 2020. Cases were categorized as (i) travel overseas if reporting travel in the 14 days prior to symptom onset or (ii) contact with a confirmed case if no overseas travel reported and case contact occurred within the same time period. Cases are plotted by reported date of symptom onset, or if unknown, date of initial specimen collection.

Without the Stage 2 restrictions would community spread have continued at the rate of the orange arrow (like Sweden)? Or would they have continued to decline from the peak and reached zero but weeks later than they are currently headed for?

Definitions from the paper:

  • State of emergency declaration introduced a ban on large gatherings and mandatory social distancing of 4m2 per person.
  • Stage 1 restrictions introduced a shutdown of non-essential services, followed shortly after by early commencement of school holidays.
  • Stage 2 restrictions expanded shut down of non-essential services, and
  • Stage 3 introduced an enforceable stay-at-home order and limited non-household groups to 2 people.

If the government didn’t bring in Stage 3, would the 3 -5 cases of community spread keep running, dragging on the Stage 2 lockdown for month after month, causing sporadic cluster outbreaks like the Cedar Meatworks outbreak where nearly 100 people were infected?

If Stage 2 restrictions reduced the rate of spread below 1.0 the virus would still track to zero, but it’s a slower decay. If Stage 3 reduced the Re (or Ro)  further, it makes the whole lockdown shorter.

There’s a cost both ways. Would it be cheaper to have avoided the Stage 3 restrictions, but paid the price with low level constant running outbreaks, with schools and factories being closed periodically, and with 20% of the population self-restricting, avoiding pubs, clubs and restaurants for months? Not to mention the burden on health workers living under constant PPE stressful conditions, some separated from their families, and facing a significant morbidity rate on an ongoing basis?

With the rest of the nation clearing out the virus, would it mean that other states would keep the borders shut and fly right over Victoria on the way to New Zealand? The high cost of Stage 3 may end up looking like a bargain if Australia does indeed clear the virus and free itself from all lockdowns (apart from quarantining international visitors, of course). Or perhaps with hindsight we could have avoided Stage 3, but we ran the risk (still unknown) of missing the chance to eliminate the virus before mid-winter.

And of course, if Vitamin D, Zinc and HCQ or Ivermectin improve the survival odds and the burden of disease, then the lockdown bought us the time to put our armor on.

The exponential growth meant more deaths for every day delayed, but decisions had to be made in the fog of unknown unknowns: How severe would the virus be; would there long term damage; were many cases asymptomatic; would immunity be lasting; how long would it take; how long would businesses survive; how fast will customers return; how much would customers change their spending even without mandatory quarantine; how soon would we find a treatment; does winter matter; do children spread it; how much is transmitted by air or surface or fecal, or via carriers with no symptoms?

The only thing we know for sure is that quarantining of international visitors should have started in mid February. As was suggested here at the time. If that had been done, none of these domestic restrictions would have been necessary. Not one.


Things worth knowing about Coronavirus:



Seemann et al (2020) Tracking the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia using genomics, doi:

Abbbreviations: for some reason the reproductive number is Re in this paper not Ro.

Deleted Graph Source: Covid19data

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Great civilizations are built on good fuel (not on hydrogen)

A week ago the Australian Government released their  Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion Paper. Presumably they want a map because they’re lost. They’d like submissions by June 21.

David Archibald lets rip on why hydrogen fuel is not going to save us, but coal, gas, and nukes will. He has wondered for years why Australia is so concerned with talking about a thirty year energy plan when we don’t even have a 90 day supply.

Australia’s Energy Plan

Guest Post by David Archibald

Global warming is the new state religion and Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, is its high priest…

The fad of the moment is hydrogen. To recap, when global warming started out the villains among us realised that the easiest way to make money was to turn Australia from being a low-cost power producer to a high cost one and take a slice of the action on the way through. So the likes of AGL and Macquarie Bank concocted solar farm and wind farm schemes and sold them on to people wanting a high, government-enforced rate of return. They then used their own money to generate a yet higher return on equity by taking advantage of the inherently unstable power grid they had created. They did this by building diesel generator sets such as this one in South Australia, obviating the whole point of getting away from carbon-based fuel.

Briefly, the only reason solar and wind get a look-in is because solar panels and wind turbines are made using energy from coal at $0.04 per kWh and turn out power at $0.20 per kWh. Some mines voluntarily install solar panels to supplement the power from diesel generator sets at $0.30 per kWh.  What would happen to the cost of power if the energy used for making solar panels was $0.20 per kWh? It would be north of at least $0.80 per kWh. You can’t use solar and wind power to make solar and wind power equipment; as such they are neither renewable nor sustainable. And they certainly won’t be replacing fossil fuels when the fossil fuels run out.

Even some lefties are figuring this out and thus the documentary Planet of the Humans. So the global warming clerisy, headed by Alan Finkel in this country, needs to keep coming up with new content to satisfy their simple-minded believers. Thus the latest encyclical by the Minister for Religious Affairs, Angus Taylor, entitled Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion Paper. This is 74 pages of stomach-churning pap. Vast sums are to be spent on hydrogen. The language of the Government encyclicals suggests that hydrogen is a new source of energy that just has to be tapped to guarantee a wonderful future.

But hydrogen is such a reactive gas that there is no source of it in nature. The only naturally occurring hydrogen is in farts in which it provides the flammable component. Hydrogen has a myriad of uses in the chemical and oil refining industries. The cheapest way of making hydrogen at the moment is a water shift reaction with natural gas. About 60% of the energy contained by the natural gas is wasted in the process — if you just wanted a source of energy. When natural gas becomes expensive enough, then hydrogen will be produced by electrolysis of water.

As a fuel, hydrogen has some big shortcomings

Hydrogen has low energy density, so a big, high-pressure tank of the stuff doesn’t take you far. It has an explosive range in air of 18% to 60%. It causes embrittlement of steel. There is a plot at the moment to add hydrogen to the natural gas distribution system — which then might start leaking like a sieve. It has a colourless flame, so leaks that have caught fire can’t be seen. In the days before infrared cameras, workers at a rocket fuel factory in Texas used to detect hydrogen leaks by walking with a straw broom in front of them. When the broom caught fire they had found the leak.

The $300 million the Federal Government proposes to spend on hydrogen won’t add anything new to what is currently known about hydrogen. It is just a distraction to placate a religious minority — the global warming believers, in the manner of Hassidic Jews being exempt from military service in Israel.

Energy Policy for Australia: Buy Oil, get nukes, stop wasting that gas

The Federal Government’s energy policy is just wishing and hoping and dreaming, built on a foundation of scientific fraud. That begs the question of what should it be? This won’t take long so let’s start:

First, sick to the terms of the Paris agreement we signed in 1979 and have at least 90 days of liquid fuels stockpiled in the country. At the current Australian consumption rate of about one million barrels per day, that would be 90 million barrels. Better yet, let’s be a lot safer than that and have 200 days of stocks. As our refineries are now few and far between, the stocks should be held as refined product – diesel, petrol, jet fuel and lubricants, and all the other little things that an economy needs to keep going. The cost of building the tankage would be US$400 per cubic metre which equates to $0.60 per litre. At 159 litres per barrel, 200 million barrels equates to 31.8 billion litres which would cost $19 billion for the tankage. At the current Singapore price for diesel of A$64 per barrel, filling our strategic petroleum reserve would cost a further $12.8 billion. Not having a reserve of this magnitude is an existential threat.

Second, ultimately nuclear energy will be needed to power every activity. The current nuclear technology, dominantly light water reactors burning U235, is prone to explosions and leaves a large waste burden relative to the power produced. To overcome those problems, in the ideal nuclear technology the fuel will circulate instead of being a solid, in the manner of the thorium molten salt reactor. Reactor size is likely to shrink back to 300 MW instead of the current size of 1,000 MW and beyond. The standard of living of our grandchildren and the generations subsequent will depend upon the operating cost of the nuclear technology we bequeath them.

A good analogy is agriculture in the economy. Currently the 2% of the U.S. population engaged in agriculture feeds the rest of the country and provides a surplus for export. The same situation occurs in Australia. By comparison, 20% of the Chinese population is engaged in agriculture and, despite the world’s heaviest fertiliser use, China needs to import 20% of their protein consumption as well. So, all other things being equal, China’s standard of living is inherently 20% lower than those of Australia and the U.S. If sustaining the future nuclear reactor fleet, in doing everything from making steel and cement to rubber seals, takes 30% of the power produced instead of say 2%, then the standard of living will be 30% lower. Getting our nuclear technology as good as it could be, as determined by physics and chemistry, is the most important thing the Federal Government can do for the future of the country.

There has been little progress in nuclear technology for the last 50 years. As the fossil fuels run out, doing everything will become more expensive. There is no time to waste.

Third, when the world’s oil supply tips over into decline, demand will start switching to other fuels. Cars will go 50% further on natural gas burnt in current car engines than on natural gas burnt in gas turbines to make power to charge electric vehicles. Coal-to-liquids becomes viable at US$120 per barrel. Ideally we will adopt the Bergius process in which hydrogen atoms are forced into coal molecules rather than the Fischer-Tropsch process in which coal is burnt to produce a synthesis gas which in turn is run over a catalyst to produce liquid fuels. The Bergius process, relying upon hydrogen produced by electrolysis using power from nuclear plants, will result in our coal reserves lasting a lot longer. Our motto should be “Conserve to convert” (to liquid fuels). Because when the coal runs out we will be scraping up dead leaves, lawn clippings, forest waste, old newspapers to provide the carbon to run the economy on.

The plan above will work at some level. It all depends upon how expensive nuclear power is when we get to the best technology possible. No other plan will work. The sooner we start, the safer we will be. That might require a cathartic event to get rid of the global warming believers who are currently forcing us down a path that can only end in tears. We wouldn’t require a cathartic event, causing suffering and putting the nation at risk, if the Chief Scientist spoke scientific truth. He can’t be so stupid as to actually believe that global warming is real, for example the runaway, compounding effect of water vapour heating starting at exactly the pre-industrial level of CO2 in the atmosphere, that the whole edifice relies upon, leaving the only possible conclusion that he sees global warming as a means to an end. In the 1950s there was a common meme in movies of evil scientists doing evil things, to the detriment of society. He is one of these.

The Global Warming religion is a new form of animism

On the subject of the religious influence on Australia’s energy policy, most global warming believers would consider themselves to be militant atheists. They are wide of the mark, because they have reverted to a basic form of animism. Nicholas Wade makes the case in his book The Faith Instinct that humans evolved to believe in a religion. Certainly religion is a part of culture and culture is the extension of evolutionary pressures by non-physical means. It is incontrovertible that some cultures are better than others. It follows that a better religion will be part of a culture’s outperformance of other cultures. Global warming doesn’t build orphanages or hospitals. As a religion it doesn’t do any good at all. Belief in global warming is like a prion relative to the human genome, a little poisonous fragment even simpler than a virus.

The U.S. entertainment industry is well aware of the significance of the religious component of culture. In the series American Gods, the old gods, led by Odin, battle the new gods created by popular culture on the basis that gods are created by the public’s belief. That theme continues in the newly released movie entitled The Hunt in which members of the “godless elite” hunt and kill deplorables. In a scene set in a convenience store, one of the elite says “For the record, arsehole, climate change is real” as she kills a deplorable with a poison gas canister.  That sentence from popular culture gives us hope that this is the beginning of the end for global warming.

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Youtube censorship gone wild removing Michael Moore’s documentary

Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans racked up 8 million views in a month, then when they extended the free views for another month, YouTube finally found a reason to shut it down. Apparently 4 seconds of video isn’t “fair use” in a documentary any more, and thus for copyright reasons, the video got pulled. If Youtube took down every 4 second violation of copyright there’d be no Youtube. Which may be about to happen anyway, when the young hip revolutionary teens realize the conglomate power is heavily censoring their access to “news” in order to fool them into obedience for corporate profit.

It’s so predictable. A month ago, Myron Ebell, CEI, said “Quick. Watch it before it’s banned”.


Everytime Youtube does this it makes it easier for a competitor to take their top spot. Bring it on.

Moore put it on Vimeo, but searching there finds nothing too. Has Vimeo been “got to”?

Doesn’t matter, because Moore’s now moved to Bitchute.

Long live Bitchute.

The documentary was banned by the film distributors right from the start, but when people started tweeting “now that it’s banned, I want to see it” they reversed their decision. But there are many ways to ignore something without actually banning it. So a big Thank You to Youtube for being so cack-handed. This will make both the documentary and Bitchute more popular.

For Michael Moore, this must be an eye opening transition as he falls from Green-Left Grace to become just another of the unspoken untermensch. For him, it might be the first time he really wakes up to the weapons grade corporate power that may have thought he was fighting previously. A Red Pill day. At this point he either does something grovelling to claw back to his former position (but they won’t trust him), or this move pushes him far into skeptic-land. Many a great skeptic is borne from the claws of Censorship.

It may also open some eyes among other namecalling lefty editors, like those on Deadline who still use the petty “deniers” label.

 ‘Planet Of The Humans’ EP Michael Moore & Director Jeff Gibbs Blast “Blatant Censorship”

The documentary, especially coming from the unassailably left-wing Moore and Gibbs and not right-wing climate-change deniers, was bound to provoke a strong reaction. Among the environmental champions leading the charge against Planet of the Humans has been Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of Gasland. Fox led an earlier campaign on Twitter to get the docu “retracted by its creators and distributors,” calling the film “shockingly misleading and absurd.”

The effort by Fox triggered its own backlash, with the writers organization PEN America labeling it attempted censorship. In his statement to Deadline, Gibbs once against decried any attempt to keep the film from reaching the public.

Here is Gibbs’ full statement to Deadline:

This attempt to take down our film and prevent the public from seeing it is a blatant act of censorship by political critics of Planet of the Humans. It is a misuse of copyright law to shutdown a film that has opened a serious conversation about how parts of the environmental movement have gotten into bed with Wall Street and so-called “green capitalists.” There is absolutely no copyright violation in my film. This is just another attempt by the film’s opponents to subvert the right to free speech.

Opponents of Planet of the Humans, who do not like its critique of the failures of the environmental movement, have worked for weeks to have the film taken down and to block us from appearing on TV and on livestream. Their efforts to subvert free speech have failed, with nearly eight and a half million people already viewing the film on YouTube. These Trumpian tactics are shameful, and their aim to stifle free speech and prevent people from grappling with the uncomfortable truths exposed in this film is deeply disturbing.

PEN America, which was founded in 1922 and fights for the free speech of artists in the U.S. and around the world, came out strongly and denounced the initial attempt to censor this film, and we hope all champions of free expression condemn this act of censorship. We are working with YouTube to resolve this issue and have the film back up as soon as possible.”

My thought on Planet of the Humans: It’s like someone read all the major skeptic blogs in the world on renewables and turned them into a documentary. Shame though he still sees humans and fossil fuels as a plague on the planet. One step at a time.

Welcome to the Deplorables club Michael Moore.

Myron Ebell, Competitive Enterprise Institute describes the film:

Much of the analysis is taken from a 2012 book, Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism by Ozzie Zehner, who was a co-producer of the film and gives a key interview in it.

A better title for the film would be, The Luddite Left Eats the Climate Industrial Complex. Every type of green energy is exposed as phony, useless, and inextricably dependent on fossil fuel production and large-scale hardrock mining. The targets include wind power, solar power, ethanol, biomass, battery storage, electric vehicles, and seaweed. After revealing the manifold shortcomings in each type of renewable energy, Gibbs, who narrates the film, remarks, “It was enough to make my head explode. I was getting the uneasy feeling that green energy was not going to save us.”

The film also goes after the leading green energy promoters and profiteers. Bill McKibben of is the leading target, but Al Gore, Michael Brune and the Sierra Club, Michael Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, Elon Musk and Tesla, Arnold Scwarzenegger, the Nature Conservancy, Vinod Khosla, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Van Jones, Richard Blood, and Jeremy Grantham are also featured. And—of course—the Kochs.

h/t Strop, Jim Simpson, Waxing Gibberish, Andrew C, Helen D.

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Fire seasons don’t run around the country lighting fires


The advertising wing for Big Government is out claiming that our cars cause extended fire seasons. Since they can’t claim that CO2 causes droughts or controls rainfall, there’s not much else they can claim.

But Fire-seasons don’t create bigger fires. The longest fire season in the world is possibly in Marble Bar but that’s not where the pyroconvective monster firestorms are.

If fuel loads were managed, longer fire seasons might allow for more small fires, but they wouldn’t be big bad ones. Plus, there’s the thing that a high fuel load without lightning or an arsonist, is just a forest.

At one point 42% of fires last summer in NSW were man-made. 9% were “natural.

Fire season extends by almost four months in parts of Australia

The fire season in parts of eastern Australia has lengthened by almost four months since the 1950s, with climate change a prominent driver in the trend, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

Karl Braganza, head of the bureau’s climate monitoring, told the first day of public hearings for the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements on Monday that the South Coast of NSW and eastern Victoria now see fire weather arriving three months earlier, occurring towards the end of winter rather than the end of spring.

Fires are not where the heat is, they’re where the fuel is

What you need to know about fires, rain and droughts

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Antibody test shows 5% of Spaniards or 2.3 million have contracted the coronavirus

This is not the road to herd immunity

In Spain, after a long battle, a quarter of a million people have tested positive to coronavirus and 27,000 have died.

But Spanish authorities have now done the largest antibody test I am aware of, and it was at least somewhat randomized.  As many as 70,000 people have been blood tested and it was discovered that 5% had antibodies to Coronavirus. That would mean there were about 2.3 million cases of Covid-WuFlu across all of Spain, which is ten times as many cases as officially counted. But it also means 95% of Spaniards are at risk of catching it, and without a lockdown the virus would still spread very quickly. The death rate works out to be about 1.1% of total infections. But there were excess deaths in Spain — above and beyond the normal, and above the known Covid Cases — so that suggests the real death rate is more like 1.3%. Not fun.

That’s possibly why Spain is heading towards zero cases. The combination of infectiousness and the fairly significant death rate means Coronavirus is a hard virus to live with. Even a low level of running virus could fire up in a couple of weeks to 5,000 cases a day.

One third were asymptomatic. Good for them. Another number worth knowing.


Daily new cases in Spain. Worldmeters.

 Antibody study shows just 5% of Spaniards have contracted the coronavirus

Bordja Andrino, Daniele Grasso, kiko llaneras, Elena Sevillano, El Pais

  • 90% weren’t detected (because Spain isn’t doing enough tests).
  • One out of every three people who tested positive for antibodies was asymptomatic and did not realize they had contracted the virus.
  • 43% lost their sense of smell.

Only 5% of Spaniards have been infected with the coronavirus, according to the preliminary results of a study by the Carlos III public health institute, which took blood samples from nearly 70,000 participants.

The Spanish overall figure of 5% is in line with studies in other European countries that showed a prevalence of 4% to 5%, far below the rate that would provide the population with so-called herd immunity, and which experts place at 60% at the very least.

If the percentage of infected people who eventually die is around 1.1%, as the study suggests, the cost in human lives of herd immunity would be between 200,000 and 300,000, making the method unacceptable.

“Five percent is the equivalent of 2,350,000 cases. If there were around 27,100 deaths, that means that the fatality rate is between 1 and 1.2%,” explains Jesús Molina Cabrillana, an epidemiologist at the Spanish Society of Preventive Medicine, Public Health and Hygiene (Sempsph).

That is in the higher range of the best available estimates from other countries, which talk about 0.5% to 1% of deaths among people who were infected with the coronavirus, known as the infection fatality rate or IFR. In Spain, if we add another 5,900 suspicious but untested cases to the total number of infections, the fatality rate grows to 1.3%.

It’s good that 36,000 households were selected at random, but since 70,000 tests were done this means probably whole households were tested. So it is possible that the study overrepresents families and young people demographically. It may also overrepresent infections since household members are more likely to spread an infection. On the other hand, the test won’t pick up active new infections, so it will  underestimate the infections as well. There is a lag of a week before some of the antibodies form. In the wash, this might be as good as it gets as an estimate.

In Spain, herd immunity might cost 200-300,000 lives.

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Tuesday Open Thread

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