Thursday, August 18, 2016
Brian Cox believes
The TV debate between climate skeptic Roberts and the credulous Prof. Cox
The key moment making headlines from the Q&A “Science Weak” episode — Brian Cox shows a temperature graph. Malcolm Roberts said the GISS temperature data has been “manipulated”. The Particle Physics Genius’ reply was argument from incredulity: gushing, gratuitous astonishment spread over six attempts to form a complete sentence:
By who? NASA? The people the… Hang on a minute. No, no, see this is quite serious. But can I just – just one thing. NASA, NASA… The people that landed men on the moon?
In a blink of reductio ad absurbum, Cox sweeps aside a potentially useful discussion about thermometers near car-parks, airports, skyscrapers, and mysterious 1,200 km homogenized smoothing. In its place he gives cheap theatrical tricks. Follow his thought to its logical conclusion — everything that NASA does (or presumably will ever do) must be 100% correct. NASA becomes an apostle of the holy order. He treats the brand name as untouchable, but NASA is not just Neil Armstrong and a Big Step, it’s an agency with 17,000 employees. But hey, none of them have ever produced a manipulated graph.
Since experts matter (so Cox tells us) let’s ask the experts — like say, Buzz Aldrin, Charles Duke and Harrison Schmitt — three guys who actually walked on the moon, or another 47 scientists and astronauts that helped them get there. They’re all skeptical. They wrote to NASA to protest at the lax standards of GISS:
“We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.”
Walter Cunningham circled the moon on Apollo 7, and as one of the men who helped earn NASA it’s brand name, he now says trust in NASA and science has been abused.
Then there are a guys like Roy Spencer and John Christie who didn’t just work at NASA, they won prizes there — and in climate research. To this day, in an enduring mystery GISS (the Goddard Institute of Space Studies) doesn’t use satellites to measure temperatures, but Spencer and Christie do. Using Cox logic, these guys outrank him, he ought be rushing to copy their views… but they are skeptics. In the last 20 years the UAH graph looks quite different to the GISS graph — though it’s more true to say that even the GISS graphs look different to the GISS graphs, as they transform year after year. Amazing how the thermometer readings are still changing 30 years later. (BTW, even the pause is there in the UAH graph. Thanks Ken. Not that it matters whether it still is — the models were already proven wrong).
Things got so far from a science discussion Cox even asked Malcolm Roberts if he believed that “men landed on the moon”. Cox was either fishing for irrelevant ad hominem attack points or it suggests that Cox has read more on climate psychology than on the climate. Being a particle physics guy perhaps he was fooled by studies with only ten anonymous internet responses. Psychology is a bit outside his expertise.
Cox takes on the role of conversation vandal (with Lily-the-future-PhD-in-eco-something as the backup “the debate is over”). He dumps logical fallacies in, trades on his own media gloss and does his best to stop an open-minded, rational discussion. The ABC fosters this sort of interaction, like a twitter conversation with cameras. Linda Burnley’s “proof” was that people shouldn’t go swimming at Maroubra in August. Like that’s meaningful. (Poms have been coming to Perth and swimming here in July since forever…) Neither Cox, Jones, Hunt or Lily scoff or laugh at that comment. They could’ve done the full Scoff-Scorn and Riotous-Laughs, but …meh… wrong target.
One day Cox will understand cause and effect:
Here’s the most important point in the whole last twenty years of debate — credit to Malcolm Roberts for hammering it home. We need empirical evidence, and we need “cause and effect” links. So here is Cox finally pressed to give his Big Empirical Evidence declaring that climate models are useful:
“Let me just – all right, I’ll just give you one snapshot. So, I took a snapshot of the different bits of evidence for 2015. So global ocean heat content highest on record in 2015; global sea level highest on record in 2015, 70 millimetres higher than that observed in 1993; global surface temperature highest on record, El Nino something like 10 to 40% contribution to that; tropical cyclones well above average overall, as you said and even the anecdotal data. …
…. So the point is you go evidence, evidence, evidence, arctic continue warm, sea ice extent low, artic land surface temperature in 2015, 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit above 1981’s 210 average.
All of that would happen no matter what caused the warming. Cox hasn’t even thought this one through at a baby basic level. If the solar wind changed clouds and warmed the world, the seas also rise, the ice also melts, blah blah blah. Same for magnetic fields changing cloud nucleation. Same for UV solar cycle changes shifting jet streams and altering cloud formation.
O’but it’s hot says Cox. It’s hot! Yet correlation is not causation. It’s fallacy after fallacy.
And some people call this man a “renown” scientist. Embarrassing.
World will start COOLING DOWN in 2017, claims Australian climate change expert
ONE of the world's leading climate change experts claims to have discovered mathematical anomalies which effectively 'disprove' global warming
Dr David Evans, a former climate modeller for the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Office, says global warming predictions have been vastly exaggerated in error.
The academic, from Perth, Australia, who has passed six degrees in applied mathematics, has analysed complex mathematical assumptions widely used to predict climate change and is predicting world temperature will stagnate until 2017 before cooling, with a 'mini ice age' by 2030.
He says fundamental flaws in how future temperatures may rise have been included in the 'standard models' and this has led to inflated mathematical - and therefore temperature - predictions.
He said: "There is an intellectual stand-off in climate change. Skeptics point to empirical evidence that disagrees with the climate models.
"Yet the climate scientists insist that their calculations showing a high sensitivity to carbon dioxide are correct — because they use well-established physics, such as spectroscopy, radiation physics, and adiabatic lapse rates.
He said he "mapped out" the architecture of the climate models used and found, that while the physics was correct, it had been "applied wrongly".
He claims to have found two reasons for it being wrongly applied, the first being a vastly over estimated impact on our temperature from CO2.
He said: "There is no empirical evidence that rising levels of carbon dioxide will raise the temperature of the Earth’s surface as fast as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts. "Yes, CO2 has an effect, but it’s about a fifth or tenth of what the IPCC says it is. "CO2 is not driving the climate; it caused less than 20% of the global warming in the last few decades”.
He said the other problem was the predictions had no reflection on changes that have actually been recorded and never saw the current 18-year temperature stagnation we are now in.
“The model architecture was wrong,” he said. “Carbon dioxide causes only minor warming. The climate is largely driven by factors outside our control.
"As such, the wind farms and solar panels are not just bad at reducing carbon dioxide — even if they did succeed in reducing carbon dioxide they’d be useless at cooling the planet. It is only four billion dollars a day worldwide, wasted."
Although he is convinced he is right, he fears it will not be taken on board by world governments. “These findings here are unlikely to be popular with the establishment. The political obstacles are massive,” he said.
Dr Evans says historic global warming has been down to solar activity - a process called “albedo modulation” - the waxing and waning of reflected radiation from the Sun.
Between 2017 and 2021 he estimates a cooling of about 0.3C before the mini ice age in the 2030s.
Turnbull must reform 18C now, as free speech is no ‘gimme’
In March, the Attorney-General said there were more important issues on the agenda than reforming free speech laws.
Last week George Brandis again ruled out removing “insult” and “offend” from section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.
A focused government can fix both the budget and free speech. With the Turnbull government floating around with no economic or cultural ballast, reforming section 18c might repair some of the brand damage done to the Liberal Party in the last three years. If not now, when?
Speaking in Adelaide at the annual Sir Samuel Griffith Society conference last Friday, Tony Abbott admitted he was wrong to walk away from a pre-election promise to reform section 18c which prohibits words that are “reasonably likely … to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” because of their “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”.
Here are five reasons why Turnbull should do what Abbott refused to do as PM. First, the country is crying out for sensible cultural leadership. As Turnbull told The Bolt Report last year, it is entirely sensible to excise “offend” and “insult” from section 18c.
Second, Senator David Leyonhjelm has lodged a complaint against Fairfax journalist Mark Kenny for writing a column that likely breaches section 18c. Kenny described Leyonhjelm as an“angry white male,” a “boorish, supercilious know-it-all”. Why shouldn’t Leyonhjelm claim Kenny’s words are reasonably likely to offend? Or is the law seriously saying white people don’t have feelings?
And that raises the third reason why Turnbull should act. The Federal Circuit Court will soon decide whether a section 18c case against three young students from Queensland University of Technology will go to trial. Three years ago, a few students were evicted from an indigenous computer lab by indigenous woman Cindy Prior for not having the right skin colour. In response, one student wrote on Facebook: “Just got kicked out of unsigned indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation.”
Prior lodged an 18c complaint against the boys because she says her feelings were hurt. Some might find Kenny’s criticisms of Leyonhjelm far more insulting than anything a few students wrote on social media. Yet Prior claims she has been so hurt by their words, even words directed at QUT not her, that she hasn’t been able to work for three years. Leyonhjelm’s section 18c complaint is a useful stunt. But a stunt nonetheless. Prior’s case isn’t a stunt. Hence it provides an even more cogent reason for reforming 18c. Whether it goes to trial or not, everyone is a loser in this case. First and foremost, the students for posting innocuous comments. These young men simply want to study and work and forge a career without being branded bigots. They don’t want to be cultural warriors fighting to defend their right to free speech. But that’s what they have been forced to do, engaging lawyers, spending time and energy on a case that makes no sense.
The second loser is Prior. A law that encourages a person to become a hapless victim by claiming her feelings have been hurt by a few words on Facebook is a law that infantilises that person. It encourages Prior to see herself as weak and vulnerable, incapable of dealing with the most trifling of words.
And the third loser is us. Laws that infantilise Prior also infantilise us by allowing feelings to trump reason. Laws that slap a bigot label on students for a few words posted on Facebook are laws that stand ready to label any of us bigots should we deviate from the stifling orthodoxy of political correctness. Laws that stifle free speech soon strangle debate and then progress is shackled too.
The brouhaha over a cartoon in The Australian by Bill Leak provides the fourth reason why 18c must be reformed. Leak’s cartoon about family dysfunction in indigenous communities should have raised intelligent questions about family dysfunction in indigenous communities. Instead of confronting the real issue, ABC radio’s Jon Faine immediately encouraged offended people to lodge a complaint under section 18c to establish that Leak’s cartoon is prohibited by law.
Curious about Faine’s attempt to stifle free speech, I contacted the Australian Human Rights Commission that same day for comment. What did the new Human Rights Commissioner, Edward Santow, have to say about this uproar that was now raising questions about free speech?
The commission’s media adviser advised me this was a race issue and accordingly the Race Commissioner would comment. Sure enough Race Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said that “Aboriginal Australians who have been racially offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated … can lodge a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act”.
With calls even from the Race Commissioner for people to complain under section 18c, I suggested to the commission’s media adviser that it was also a free speech matter. I repeated my request for a comment from the Human Rights Commissioner, who is charged with responsibility for the human right to free speech. There was only silence on that front. The Commission decided it was a race issue. End of story.
When claiming money for hurt feelings under section 18c takes precedence at the Australian Human Rights Commission over defending the human right to free speech, it’s clear our culture is being corrupted by the very institution charged with protecting human rights.
The foyer of the commission’s offices in Sydney openly exhibits that corruption. A floor-to-ceiling glass wall adjacent to where visitors sit says: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families.”
Do I really have a human right to demand a certain standard of living from the government? Who determines what that standard of living is? Me? You? Some make-work bureaucrat at the commission trying to justify a sky-high salary? What about my responsibility to create a standard of living for myself?
Speaking at the Sydney Opera House last week, PJ O’Rourke identified the core of this rights corruption. He pointed to the trumping of gimme-rights over get-outta-here rights. Gimme-rights are when you claim you have a human right to get something — like more than $240,000 for having your feelings hurt. The get-outta-here rights mean you have a right to get government out of your life — say a student who expects to be able to freely post a few pointed comments about QUT’s boneheaded segregation without being hauled before a court. Too many politicians are also consumed with gimme-rights. Promising people things under the banner of gimme-rights rather than defending get-outta-here rights gives politicians things to do. When was the last time a politician with real power promised to get out of our lives and deliver on that front?
The new Senate offers Turnbull additional heft to defend free speech. Re-elected senators Bob Day and Leyonhjelm are on board. So are new senators Derryn Hinch, Pauline Hanson and her three One Nation senators. Maybe a decent debate can entice Nick Xenophon and his senators to defend principles rather than pursue populism. Turnbull should make the case for what he called sensible reform of section 18c, not as a sop to conservatives, but because it is the right thing to do in a Western liberal democracy committed to free speech. So let’s ask again, if not now, when?
A record six Australian universities gonged by Jiao Tong
Monash University and the University of Queensland are the big Australian winners in the new global top 100 list from the Chinese-based Academic Ranking of World Universities, increasingly regarded as the world's most prestigious list for higher education institutions.
In the 2016 rankings, released on Monday, Monash went from outside the top 100 directly to 79th, only two points behind the Australian National University which has been in the top 100 ever since the ranking was first published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2003.
The University of Queensland moved from 77th last year to 55th, in keeping with its reputation as the most rapid improver among Australia's top universities.
"It's an incredible achievement, given the domestic policy difficulties the Australian higher education sector has faced for a very long period," said University of Queensland vice chancellor Peter Hoj.
The Academic Ranking of World Universities, often known as the Shanghai ranking, rates universities solely on their output of high level research, with science, maths and medicine taking precedence over other disciplines.
It rewards universities strongly if its staff or graduates win Nobel prizes or Fields medals in maths, and also rewards publication in the top research journals Science and Nature. It does not measure teaching quality or the employability of university graduates.
The University of Melbourne remains Australia's top university in the ranking, lifting from 44th last year to 40th this year. The University of Sydney also did well, returning to the top 100 at 82nd after dropping out two years ago. The University of Western Australia just scraped in at 96th place.
This year was a landmark for China which, for the first time, saw its universities enter the Shanghai top 100 list. In a very strong performance Tsinghua University vaulted into the list directly to 58th, and Peking University moved straight to 71st.
Professor Hoj contrasted the tight funding for universities in Australia with China, which was making "massive and strategic investments in higher education and research".
Singapore is also celebrating a notable achievement. Only days after Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling won the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal, the country saw its first ever university listed in the Shanghai ranking top 100.
National University of Singapore, long recognised as south-east Asia's best academic institution, entered the list at 83rd.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here