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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Can the Moon change our climate? Can tides in the atmosphere solve the mystery of ENSO?

Image by Luc Viatour

The Moon has such a big effect — moving 70% of the matter on the Earth’s surface every day, that it seems like the bleeding obvious to suggest that just maybe, it also affects the air, the wind, and causes atmospheric tides. Yet the climate models assume the effect is zero or close to it.

Indeed, it seems so obvious, it’s a “surely they have studied this before” moment. Though, as you’ll see, the reason lunar effects may have been ignored is not just “lunar-politics” and a lack of funding, but because it’s also seriously complex. Keep your brain engaged…

Ian Wilson and Nikolay Sidorenkov have published a provocative paper, Long-Term Lunar Atmospheric Tides in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s an epic effort of 14,000 words and a gallery of graphs. As these atmospheric tides swirl around the planet they appear to be creating standing waves of abnormal air-pressure that slowly circle the planet, once every 18 years. If this is right, then it could be the key to finally understanding, and one day predicting, the mysterious Pacific ENSO pattern that so affects the global climate. Even at this early stage, brave predictions are on […]

Who’s a conspiracy theorist then Paul Syvret?

Paul Syvret seems to be hoping no one will notice that he doesn’t even try to respond to arguments about wind turbines. His technique to avoid debate is to decree that some other people were wrong once on a different topic. They used a rapid fire technique called a Gish Gallop, so therefore, thusly and henceforth anyone with a rapid fire technique can be dismissed with a handy wave of The Gish. It’s just another label in Syvret’s all-purpose excuse-list for not having a grown up conversation.

Those who have no evidence just make things up and toss insults. Syvret of The Courier Mail defends the wind industry from its critics — not with data about windfarms, but with allegations of imaginary astroturfing and denialism. He uses all his biggest scientific words: it’s “a barrage of BS”, “pseudo-science”, and a crusade run by a rat-bag in an incestuous network. He wants to make sure his readers know the critics are shills and conspiracy nutters because, well… he says so.

The Australian Environment Foundation is his main target today. What’s it guilty of? Well, it links to unpaid bloggers that Syvret doesn’t like: those ” sites promoting climate-change denial (such […]

The Marcott Hockey-stick: smoothing the past and getting a spike from almost no data?

The message to the world is unequivocal:

“We are heading for somewhere that is far off from anything we have seen in the past 10,000 years – it’s through the roof. In my mind, we are heading for a different planet to the one that we have been used to,” said Jeremy Shakun of Harvard University, a co-author of the study.

Source: The-world-is-hottest-it-has-been-since-the-end-of-the-ice-age–and-the-temperatures-still-rising.

There are two factors in the new Marcott paper that are major red flags. For one, there is hardly any data in the modern end of the graph. Ponder how researchers can find 5,000 year old Foraminifera deposits, but not ones from 1940? Two: they’ve smoothed the heck out of longer periods. Marcott et al clearly say there is “…essentially no variability preserved at periods shorter than 300 years…” So if there were, say, occurrences of a warming rise exactly like the last century, this graph won’t show them.

Some of the data has a resolution as poor as “500 years” and the median is 120 years. If current temperatures were averaged over 120 years (that would be 1890 to now), the last alarming spike would blend right in with the other data. Where would the average […]

Pachauri quietly blows goalposts away, pretends to like skeptics. It’s all PR to keep the gravy train running.

There’s a PR war going on

Pachauri is chief PR officer for the Global-not-so-Warming-Gravy-Train. His job is to say things with a straight face that are the complete opposite of what he’s said before, and to pretend he has never said anything differently.

The IPCC are a government committee who’ve stamped the brand name “science” to their policy wish list. They got away with it by using ancient tribal rhetorical techniques. Call your opponent names, spit on their reputation, spread nasty rumors, and tell the useful idiots who follow you that they are smart, caring, and superior — even as you teach them to chant “denier” in response to the dog-whistle. The good thing about having Idiot followers is that can believe at the same time that “denier” is a scientific term and that they have a high IQ.

It is also handy if you give out plum government jobs and consultancies, to keep your supporters ardent. The power of patronage, what ho!

But the game is changing, skeptics have scored too many points.

Thus and verily skeptics have been hitting home runs by shining a light on the religious attitude of the IPCC which keeps declaring unscientifically […]

John Cook of (un) SkepticalScience, admits “climate change denier” is inaccurate. Will he stop name-calling?

I don’t think John Cook realizes how his latest article affects virtually everything else he’s written.

(Repeated on the SMH too.)

How accurate is a book when even the title describes a group of people who don’t exist? Will Cook stop abusing English?

So he finally admits the banal, that there is no rational explanation for calling skeptical scientists “climate deniers” or “climate change deniers”. Bravo. (No one denies that climate changes, or thinks the Earth has no climate.). But this is terminology he uses everywhere, and it describes a group of people that don’t exist. Has he only just noticed?

We think through our language, and when we use sloppy, inaccurate words, we get sloppy inaccurate results. Abusing our language is what people do when they don’t have a rational argument.

Misleading language is de rigueur for Cook. Even the name of his “SkepticalScience” website is the anti-thesis of accurate English. He’s not skeptical of “official science” in the slightest, and with a gaping hole in his logic (see below), not too scientific either.

Look out for the “fake” tag, too. Since when did a representative of a university call another university academic a fake? Since Cook did. […]

Lewandowsky’s “research team”. Who is Mike Hubble-Marriott?

The fourth name on the new Lewandowsky paper is Mike Hubble-Marriott, from “Climate Realities Research, Melbourne”. What isn’t listed on the paper, is that Mike’s “climate research” is published under the anonymous moniker of Mike, on a site called WatchingTheDeniers A site incidentally, which is linked in the paper. Perhaps they ought to have disclosed that?

Climate Realities Research has no website, it doesn’t appear to be a registered business, and Googling doesn’t shed any light on it. Just how serious is his research?

“Mike” gave it away on The Conversation blog a long time ago, sort of, saying “my real name which is Michael Marriott – thus, any charges of anonymity can be dealt with.” Hubble-Marriott, or Marriott, what’s the difference? Hmm. (See Watching the Deniers) In his other life, he worked for a law firm as an information services manager. Perhaps he still does? But now apparently he’s a climate researcher. OK.

I’m not fussy about qualifications, there are plenty of Profs who can’t think. But Lewandowsky and Hubble-Marriott think qualifications are all that matter. Hypocrisy anyone?

Mike commented on this blog in March 2010 as “Mike” on this thread, but in the end failed the logic and […]

Eight reasons the Australian heatwave is not “climate change”

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

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

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

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

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

3. If a few […]

Death threats anyone? Austrian Prof: global warming deniers should be sentenced to death

Richard Parncutt

Richard Parncutt, Professor of Systematic Musicology, University of Graz, Austria, reckons people like Watts, Tallbloke, Singer, Michaels, Monckton, McIntyre and me (there are too many to list) should be executed. He’s gone full barking mad, and though he says these are his “personal opinions” they are listed on his university web site.

For all the bleating of those who say they’ve had real “death threats“, we get discussions about executing skeptics from Professors, wielding the tyrannical power of the state. Was he paid by the state to write these simplistic, immature, “solutions”? Do taxpayers fund his web expenses? (And what the heck is systematic musicology?)

Prof Richard Parncutt says:

“I have always been opposed to the death penalty in all cases…”

“Even mass murderers [like Breivik] should not be executed, in my opinion.”

“GW deniers fall into a completely different category from Behring Breivik. They are already causing the deaths of hundreds of millions of future people. We could be speaking of billions, but I am making a conservative estimate.”


If a jury of suitably qualified scientists estimated that a given GW denier had already, with high probability (say 95%), caused the deaths of over one […]

Lewandowsky – Shows “skeptics” are nutters by asking alarmists to fill out survey

I‘m putting on a conservative, understated hat. This could be the worst paper I have seen — an ad hom argument taken to its absurd extreme, rebadged as “science”.

Professorial fellow Stephan Lewandowsky thinks that skeptics who are “greatly involved” in the climate debate believe any kind of conspiracy theory, including that the moon landings never happened, that AIDS is not due to HIV, and that smoking doesn’t cause cancer. But he didn’t find this out by asking skeptics who are “greatly involved” in the climate debate or by reading their popular sites. He “discovered” this by asking 1,000 visitors to climate blogs. Which blogs? He expertly hunted down skeptics, wait for it… here:

Deltoid, Tamino Scot Mandia, Bickmore, A Few Things Ill Considered, Hot-Topic (NZ) Trunity (unconfirmed?) John Cook (through twitter, h/t Barry Woods at Climate Audit)

This is the point where the question has to be asked: Did Lewandowsky, Oberauer, and Gignac really think they would get away with it? Did none of the reviewers at “Psychological Science“ think to ask if the “sampling” of alarmist blogs would affect the results?

The paper is titled:

“NASA faked the moon landing — Therefore (Climate) Science is […]

Are they serious? Shade Cloth over the Great Barrier Reef to save it from climate change?

These people are not good with numbers.

In a paper published in Nature Climate Change today, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, together with Greg Rau of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, and Elizabeth McLeod of The Nature Conservancy, say new tactics are needed to save oceans from CO2 emissions.

“It’s unwise to assume we will be able to stabilise atmospheric CO2 at levels necessary to prevent ongoing damage to marine ecosystems,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

“In lieu of dealing with the core problem – increasing emissions of greenhouse gases – these techniques and approaches could ultimately represent the last resort.”

In addition to using shade cloth over coral reefs, the paper suggests novel marine conservation options, including applying low-voltage electrical current to stimulate coral growth and mitigate mass bleaching; adding base minerals such as carbonates and silicates to the ocean to neutralize acidity; and converting CO2 from land-based waste into dissolved bicarbonates that could be added to the ocean to provide carbon sequestration.

Alistair Hobday Research Scientist – Marine and Atmospheric Research at CSIRO said novel solutions are required. “We need to be mature enough to listen to […]