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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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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 […]

Was 2010 the hottest ever?

Was 2010 “the hottest year ever” as the PR machine repeats ad nauseum? Yes — but only if you ignore three of the four main global datasets and those awkward questions about why nobody thought to put thermometers in better places.

Run your eyes down this page to see how the GISS temperatures pan out compared to all the other compilations. This is James Hansen’s group, and GISS stands for the Goddard Institute of Space Studies — and in the topsy-turvey world of climate change, that’s apt — the space centre and hot bed of rocketry calculates world temperatures by ignoring … satellites. For GISS, measuring the world temperature, calls for irregularly spaced, unique, non-standardized temperature stations (sometimes near air-conditioning vents and concrete). And no sir, not the satellites that scan the Earth 24 hours a day, over land and sea, and which are usually not too close to exhaust vents, or buildings, or (thank goodness) fermenting vats of sewage either.

So, indeed, the only sane answer to the cherry picking crowd who crow triumphantly about their outlying most favorite result, is that “No” 2010 was not hotter than 1998, not according to the satellites. And even if it had […]

The Unskeptical Guide to the Skeptics Handbook

It’s taken 21 months, four professors, and three associate/assistant professors, and THIS is the best they could come up with? The printed version listed no author (the pdf has been updated with John Cooks name*) yet wears the logo of the University of Western Australia (UWA), which will embarrass that university as word spreads of the intellectual weakness of their “Guide“.

Did UWA commission this piece of rather inept, qualitative “feel-good” science and clumsy reasoning? Stephan Lewandowsky invited John Cook to speak at UWA and “offer assistance“.

The booklet uses a mislabeled graph with a deceptive scale, won’t show the damning graphs it supposedly debunks, assumes positive feedback occurs despite the weight of empirical evidence against it (Douglass, Spencer, Lindzen), and repeats irrelevant information even though The Skeptics Handbook describes why rising sea levels and glaciers and ice sheets can’t possibly tell us what causes the warming. It misleadingly discusses a different fingerprint — one that isn’t the key point and isn’t disputed by skeptics. Cause and effect are mixed up, and naturally there are strawmen arguments to unnecessarily destroy for the spectacle of being seen to do something. To top it off, Cook still thinks a measurement is […]

Lambert, victim of his own spin?

Lambert has replied to the post I did that pointed out that his use of the fake “Pinker Tape” in the debate with Monckton was a cheap-shot ambush with no real significance.

As usual, his reply includes major claims like “a dishonest post” and “there’s no wiggle room here”, and, as usual, he can’t back them up.

Dishonest? I quote Pinker as saying:

[I]f we give Christopher Monckton the benefit of doubt and assume that he meant “the impact of clouds on the surface shortwave radiation” than it can pass.”

And Lambert thinks that somehow this really means that Pinker said Monckton’s terminology can pass, but his analysis is wrong? This exactly-backward interpretation is delusional (or dishonest, eh?). To read it from Pinker’s statement, you need to throw out the English grammar rulebook, and read from right to left. So now, it’s dishonest to quote someone directly? This is another example of the convoluted way faithful AGW people have to think in order to dig themselves out of the hole they find themselves in.

Let’s recall after all the too-ing and fro-ing, that even if Pinker thinks Monckton is wrong, even if Lambert gets a quote from Pinker saying […]

Deltoid creates some sci-comm pollution

Deltoid (aka Tim Lambert) tries to attack Monckton (again). The bottom line? Deltoid agrees that Monckton’s calculations are correct, and accuses him of getting a figure wrong (which Monckton got right). As per form, there is plenty of bluster, and minimal substance. Deltoid repeats over and over that there are lots of mistakes and they’re all “important”, but cannot demonstrate any beyond a squabble over the exact phrasing of whether the IPCC included a formula or not. (It’s debateable, but it’s not important.)

Monckton’s letter to Rudd was big-picture stuff, yet Lambert avoids the heavy-weight items–the falling credibility of the IPCC, the starving poor, the cost-benefit analysis. Deltoid attacks phraseology, job titles, funding, but not the crux of Monckton’s points.

To put some perspective on it: the IPCC has grossly exaggerated climate sensitivity, ignored valid criticisms, and repeatedly used non-peer reviewed references (when it has repeatedly claimed to do otherwise). IPCC lead-authors are under investigation, have withheld data, conspired to delete data, and selectively ignored 75% of the global temperature record because it didn’t give them the “right” answer. (See the four Gates of the IPCC, and Horrifying examples of data manipulation.)

To put a pointier perspective […]

Goldilocks graphs: not too close, not too far

Have you noticed, the scaremongers are being boxed into reusing the same graph over and over. We sceptics are not afraid of any graph, but alarmists just don’t want to look from too close or too far away…

When skeptics debunk a graph we show the graph we debunk. Not so the carbon-is-a-crisis crowd. The latest trend in graphology-PR is to debunk sceptics graphs by ignoring the graph itself and putting up an entirely different graph.

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