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Dead but won’t lie down


Screenshot from 2017-06-06 10:35:57

Last week was a bad week for Climate Science. First President Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement and then Clive James bags the whole climate circus in a major article in the Weekend Australian. The problem with Clive is that he is arguably Australia’s best loved and most revered intellectual and cannot be easily dismissed as a Right Wing nut job. According to Clive, Climate Change is dead but it won’t lie down.

And that’s not all. In the US, Dilbert creator, Scott Adams has stirred things up with a cartoon in which Dilbert’s boss hires a climate consultant. (

The cartoon ends with the tag –
Dilbert: “What if I don’t trust the economic models?”
Consultant: “Who hired the science denier?”

An organization called Yale Climate Connections immediately put out a You Tube ( in which some leading lights in the climate science community e.g. Andrew Dessler and Mike “Hockeystick” Mann refute Adams’ cartoon. That’s right, a team of university professors finds it necessary to publicly refute a cartoon!

The video is worth viewing because it is the epitome of Alarmist arguments such as they are. Except that this time “its not just the models”, either because models are now on the nose or because models were mentioned in the cartoon. As usual we are told of the massive amounts of evidence from tree rings, pack ice cover, bore holes, of independent teams all coming up with the same answer “over and over again”. The sad thing is that every single one of these arguments and, in fact, the whole thrust of the video, only go to confirm that the planet has warmed slightly over the last century or so.

That has never been in question. No-one disagrees with that proposition. What is truly remarkable is that no evidence is provided, or even referred to, that human activities play any role at all in this warming. No evidence is provided that recent warming is anything other than a natural occurrence. The best they can do is Dessler’s lame comment that “despite our best attempts” they can find no other explanation!

Are the energy economies of nation states being put at risk because these fools can find no explanation?

Perhaps they can find no explanation because they are lousy scientists.

The fact is they don’t come over as scientists at all; they don’t even talk like scientists. They come over as preachers, pure and simple. Their rhetoric has more of the flavour of a revival meeting than an intellectual discourse. Dessler, when mentioning sea level rise, says, lamely: “They kinda match”.  Dr Sara Myhr tells us that climate is “deeply unstable”. In fact the science in the video is so bad, a dispassionate observer might find it difficult to determine which one is the spoof: the cartoon or the video.

And, in the middle of this panoply of Denial, comes the Finkel Report.

Its Terms of Reference commence with:
The Australian electricity market is undergoing a significant transition, including due to rapid technological change, the increasing penetration of renewable energy, a more decentralised generation system, withdrawal of traditional baseload generation and changing consumer demand.

The report has been hamstrung by its terms of reference. The wisdom of this country’s participation in the Paris Agreement and the consequent promotion of Renewable Energy Targets (RETs) were not subject to discussion, they were a fait accompli.

The rapid introduction of Variable Renewable Electricity sources into the Eastern Australian Grid is without doubt the major cause of instability and power insecurity that this report was supposed to address. It is not driven by “rapid technological change” or “consumer demand” as the Report assumes but is being actively promoted and subsidised by government. This, in turn, is a direct consequence of the widespread popular belief in the climate change mythology as presented in the video discussed above. Without human induced climate change there is no need to adopt RETs. Renewable energy will take its place in the energy market if and when it becomes commercially competitive; there is simply no need for it to be mandated by the state.

The lesson of the SA blackout has not been learned. Thanks to the closure of Hazelwood and without even a replacement on the drawing board, we can expect a similar event to occur in Victoria in the near future. It is likely to happen in late winter or early spring when there is little solar power available and the wind generators all cut out, as they are designed to do, in high winds. When it happens many more people will be affected than in SA. Depending on the time of day tens of thousands of Melburnians could find themselves trapped for hours in commuter trains while chaos reigns on the roads because of stalled trams and failed traffic lights.

It could be a wake-up call. More likely it will be blamed on Climate Change.

The Mandelbrot Set

Screenshot of You Tube video of Arthur C Clarke's Fractals - The Colors of Infinity
Screenshot of You Tube video of Arthur C Clarke’s Fractals – The Colors of Infinity

Recently at Cygnet U3A, June Cunningham gave us two utterly fascinating talks on fractals and the Mandelbrot set (aka the “M-set”). Thank you, June.

The piece de resistance was a 53 minute video: Arthur C Clark’s Fractals – The Colors Of Infinity. It is now available on You Tube:

Wonderful stuff, really worth watching.

Is the M-set “real”?

3 minutes into Clarke’s video, Prof Michael Barnsley pleads

“The Mandelbrot Set is real!”.

“It does exist” but it is “not touchable”.

Well he would say that wouldn’t he. He’s a mathematician.

Physicists are more discerning. Physics draw a distinction between mathematical existence and physical “real world” existence. Mathematicians deal with what could be the case, physicists are concerned with what actually is the case.

The Greeks like Euclid believed that their geometry explored the properties of real space, that it was a form of physics. The investigation of non-Euclidean spaces by Bolyai, Lobachevsky and Riemann in the late 19th century showed that other geometries were possible. In the early 20th Century, Einstein and Minkowsky clinched it by showing that even the real world is not Euclidean. Einstein was very annoyed with mathematical idealists who believed that you can, by thought alone, decide what the Universe must be like. Einstein retaliated with: “Space is what we measure with measuring rods. Time is what we measure with clocks”.

Perhaps the single most important theory underlying modern physics is the atomic theory:  the idea that matter is not infinitely divisible but is made up of small particles called atoms and molecules. It follows that we can never construct a material Mandelbrot Set because, at sufficient magnification, we would be frustrated by the shape of the molecules themselves and unable to continue. Perhaps we could construct a field which is a Mandelbrot Set? Maybe not even that according to Hawking. Even space itself is not infinitely divisible beyond the Planck Length.

The objects depicted in the video and called fractals are not true fractals because, in the real world, at some resolution, their self similarity must break down. They are simply self-similar fractal-like objects created by a process of iteration. Mathematically speaking they only become fractals in the limit as the number of iterations tends to infinity. Like the M-set itself, fractals are a mathematical ideal. They cannot exist as material objects in the real world.

A fractal "fern"
A fractal “fern”

The important thing about the ferns, trees and mountains depicted in the video is not their fractal nature, not their properties “in the limit”, it is the creation of such self-similar objects by a process of iteration and which can closely resemble objects in the real world. This iterative process is analogous to the concept of auto-regression mentioned in the previous post. Instead of iterating numbers we iterate geometric shapes. In the case of the fractals depicted above, the innovation is zero and it is a perfect shape.

A real fern.
A real fern.

The image of this real world ferns is certainly not perfect. It has many irregularities which cause it to depart from the ideal state.

That’s the point. Fractals are perfect – the real-world is not.

Another M-set?

If you get really hooked on this you may start wondering: Can it be generalized? Are there any other M-Sets?

The M-set is dependent on the addition and multiplication of complex numbers, numbers like 3+4i where, by definition, i.i = -1 (dot means multiply). That is all you need to know to multiply two complex numbers, e.g. ( remembering our high school algebra) –

(2+3i).(4+5i) = 8+10i+12i+15i.i = 8+22i-15 = -7+22i

The question boils down to “Can the complex numbers be generalized?”.

Well yes they can. They were generalized by the Irish mathematician Hamilton in 1843 who invented quaternions. A quaternion is a sort of super complex number written in terms of three imaginary numbers such as 2+3i+4j+5k. By definition, i.i = j.j = k.k = i.j.k = -1.

As before that is all we need to know in order to add and to multiply two quaternions. We can use Mandelbrot’s iterative formula to decide whether a point in 4-dimensional quaternion space is inside or outside a given area, let’s call it the Q-set, and colour it according to how fast it goes to infinity, as before.

This is what you get.

The 3 dimensional Q-set generated by using quaternions instead of complex numbers. Screenshot from the You Tube video.
The 3 dimensional Q-set generated by using quaternions instead of complex numbers. Screenshot from the You Tube video.

The You Tube is available at:


Lavoisier Paper

(a) An artificial 10,000 year long time series with the same statistical structure as observed global average temperature. It is low pass filtered white noise with a time constant of 1100 years. (b) A 160 year long sub-sample of this time series showing how the "red" noise of short segments can suggest a trend and a multi-decadal cycle when none exist.
(a) An artificial 10,000 year long time series with the same statistical structure as observed global average temperature. It is low pass filtered white noise with a time constant of 1100 years. (b) A 160 year long sub-sample of this time series showing how the “red” noise of short segments can suggest a trend and a multi-decadal cycle when none exist.

Lavoisier Paper

Today my paper on the statistics of global average temperature was posted on the Lavoisier Group’s web site:

It is intended as a popular account of my paper in Energy and Environment which recently appeared on-line. Unlike that paper, it includes no equations or mathematical symbols. It examines the old-fashioned deterministic world-view of the applied mathematicians who run the climate models and compares it to the 20th century idea of “stochastic process” which more readily accommodates the scientific method.

The underlying assumption of the  stochastic approach is that every state is dependent not on the time per se but only on previous states by a process known as auto-regression. There is also assumed to be an additional, unknown, random component called “the innovation”. This statistical approach allows the use of well established statistical methods to test for drifts and cycles in the data.

The conclusion? There is no significant trend in global average temperature and therefore no need to look for causes. At time scales of less than a millennium global temperature variations are just red noise.


Reid,J. (2017) There is no significant trend in global average temperature. Energy and Environment 28, 3, 302–315.

A copy may be downloaded here .


The Bunnings Letter


The  Bunnings Letter

The Forestry (Unlocking Production Forests) Bill is being debated Tasmanian Parliament. At the moment it is before the Legislative Council.

Recently, Michael Schneider, Managing Director of Bunnings, wrote to the leaders of both major parties seeking to influence this debate. A copy of the letter can be downloaded here. The Launceston Examiner article can be found at The letter is being used by the Greens as an argument against the Bill.

Schneider is opposed to the present bill. That is his democratic right. However the language and style of the letter indicate that it has been strongly influenced by Green policy, no doubt via the Green ginger group, Markets for Change. Whether the shareholders of Bunnings would approve of Schneider’s ideological representations on their behalf is a different matter.

In typical Green fashion the letter grossly misrepresents the true situation and uses politically correct buzzwords in place of reasoned argument. Here are some examples:

Sustainability: Anti-forestry activists love this word. It implies that, when a forest is logged, it is gone forever.  We are all familiar with the images of recently logged coupes and the supposedly irreversible devastation that has been wrought. What nonsense. Unlike rain forests, properly managed eucalypt forests, such as those in Tasmania, will continue to produce timber indefinitely, just as they have done for millions of years before humans arrived on the scene. Without human intervention major bushfires swept through them every 40 to 200 years or so. Now we intervene in that cycle and take timber for our purposes much as we do with any other crop. The only difference is that logging is carried out on a longer time scale than other forms of agriculture. The “devastation” of flora, fauna and soils caused by major fires far exceeds anything brought about by even the most careless logging practices. That is the nature of eucalypt forest. Properly managed forest operations, as in Tasmania, could well be regarded as a form of conservation.

zero tolerance to illegal logging: this seems to have come from the charter of the Forest Stewardship Council (see Note below) which was initially set up in 1993 in response to the ruthless exploitation of native forests and their occupants by U.S. logging companies operating in South America. At that time it served its purpose well. Nowadays it is used by Green activists to disadvantage any logging operations of which they disapprove. Forestry Tasmania has been unable to gain certification for this reason despite world’s best practice in the management of our forests.

Should this Bill be passed by both Houses of Parliament it will become an Act and any logging operations carried out under this Act will certainly be legal. To suggest otherwise is to question the sovereignty of the Parliament of Tasmania. Have we reached the stage where large companies such as Wesfarmers can thumb their noses at state governments while slavishly complying with arbitrary and draconian restrictions imposed from offshore?

low risk plantations or verified legal and sustainable forest operations: Presumably verified legal is code for FSC certified, but what are low risk plantations? Plantation forests are not necessarily “greener” than managed native forests. They are monocultures and do not contain the diversity of flora and  under-story that native animals need to survive.

… our Tasmanian suppliers … will not be sourcing timber from outside their existing forest coupes: Most of Bunnings outdoor furniture timber comes from Vietnam and South Africa,

where it has been FSC certified of course.


NOTE: The Forest Stewardship Council is not exactly squeaky clean. See for example:

Simon Counsell, Director of Rainforest Foundation

The FSC is ‘Enron of Forestry’

In the interview, Counsell responds directly to several claims made by the FSC. He states that there been several records of the FSC selling illegally logged wood and that the FSC has caused more harm than good to indigenous groups: “I am aware of cases where there has been serious abuse of indigenous peoples’ rights in FSC certified areas”. In regards to FSC’s claim that their monoculture plantations do not replace forest, Counsell responded: “In truth, many of the areas that are now FSC-certified plantations were formerly natural forests. Also, FSC-certified plantations have destroyed many other important non-forest natural ecosystems, ranging from grasslands in South Africa to peat-bogs in Ireland.”


Chairman Mao and Premier Jay

Chairman Mao visits a homemade blast furnace
Chairman Mao visits a homemade blast furnace


Premier Jay Weatherill at the Snowtown Stage 2 wind farm opening. November 2014  Image: The Flinders News
Premier Jay Weatherill at the Snowtown Stage 2 wind farm opening. November 2014
Image: The Flinders News

New Technology in a Command Economy

By mandating Renewable Energy Targets (RETs) the South Australian Government has made its state a Command Economy in the energy sector.  Such arbitrary economic targets characterized Stalin’s Five Year Plans. In fact, there are close parallels between Mao Tse Tung’s backyard blast furnaces and South Australia’s renewable energy program. Both are examples of a Command Economy in action. Both reveal its shortcomings in dealing with new technology.

In China in 1958:
First, peasants were organized into cooperatives of 20 to 40 families. This was at the village level. Next the cooperatives were replaced by county-wide collectives involving hundreds of thousands of people. In addition to calling for the creation of communes Mao urged the peasants to build backyard blast furnaces to make iron and steel for tools. The peasants were supposed to melt down scrap metal to make useful items such as tools and utensils. In practice the program worked backwards with peasants melting down useful items to produce unusable masses of metal. This happened because the State exhorted the peasants to increase production from the backyard blast furnaces and when they ran out of scrap they started melting down anything they could find, including tools and utensils.

In South Australia:
Renewables SA commenced in mid-2009, coinciding with the announcement by the South Australian Government to increase the state’s renewable energy production target to 33 per cent by 2020. This target was achieved in 2013-14. In 2014, a new target of 50% by 2025 was set, subject to national renewable energy policy being retained. South Australia’s significant installed capacity in renewables has translated into investment to the State of $6.6 billion to date, with some $2.4 billion, or 40%, of this occurring in regional areas. In recognition of the economic benefits, South Australia has committed to an investment target of $10 billion in low carbon generation by 2025.

Power Engineer, Terry Caldwell, commenting on the recent SA blackout:
Any change in power generation from wind generators has to be compensated for and chased by thermal power generation units which decreases their efficiency substantially and more than obviates any gain from wind generators. These severe load changes can create a power wave within the grid system that causes instability as the thermal units try to match the wind generators’ severe load changes.

The hypocrisy of the South Australian Government is unbelievable. Because they had knocked down their coal-fired thermal power stations they had insufficient power. So then they had to import it from Victoria through the state interconnector which was never intended for that purpose. When the interconnector exceeded its maximum load capacity, it tripped, as it was supposed to do.

Mao’s blast furnaces and SA’s renewable energy have a lot in common, viz.:

  1. Both were mandated “top-down” for primarily ideological reasons.
  2. Both ignored the advice of skilled experts.
  3. Both presume that complex engineering issues can always be quickly resolved by non-experts.
  4. Both regard constructive criticism as political betrayal.
  5. Both refuse to acknowledge the real reasons when projects fail and look for scapegoats instead.

How then would a Market Economy deal with the renewable energy issue?
It is the Command Economy’s central planning of renewables, not renewables themselves, that is the problem. After all, fossil fuels, by their nature cannot last forever and there is certainly good reason to believe that renewables will one day become our prime source of energy. However in a market economy this can only happen when the product, electrical power, becomes competitive, i.e. when it is sufficiently cheap and usable to gain market share. This is already the case with one renewable, hydro-electricity. Because it is dispatchable (i.e. it can be rapidly switched on and off) it can fetch a high spot price  in the energy market.

This is the raison d’etre of the Basslink cable. Tasmania’s considerable hydro resource, painstakingly built up over a century, is now a hot property for purely commercial reasons.

However other renewables such as wind and solar are at the other end of the dispatchability scale; even worse than base-load power, they are intermittent. The wind must be blowing or the sun shining for them to be available. This makes them virtually worthless when developed alone. They can only be used alongside base-load or dispatchable sources of power. Ideally, for stability reasons, such intermittent sources should not be wired into the grid at all; they should be adapted to pumping energy into a suitable reservoir, such as a hydro dam, for later distribution.

The big advantage of hydro is that, by its very nature, it involves storage of energy in the form of potential energy of water stored in highland lakes. Wind and solar lack this property but they can make a very good match with hydro for this reason. In SA with no hydro power they don’t make much sense. Many commercial processes, from restaurant kitchens to aluminium smelters, require continuous sources of power. It can be disastrous if the grid goes down when the wind generators have been switched off due to high winds.

Other renewables include ocean waves, OTEC and geothermal.

Numerous schemes have been devised to harness ocean wave energy. By their nature they need to be large in order to intersect a wide cross-section of waves and this combined with the fact that they operate in one of the most hostile environments on earth, the breaker zone, means that they often show early promise only to be wiped out by a storm a couple of years later.

Ocean thermal energy conversion or OTEC is an arrangement of concentric pipes which exploit the temperature difference between surface and deep waters in the tropics. It requires very steep off-shore topography such as found around tropical volcanic islands. An OTEC unit has been operating in Hawaii since the 1960s but its power output is very low. OTECs are a useful adjunct to onshore fish farming as they bring up deep nutrients as well as energy.

Geothermal energy is a reality in New Zealand where there are numerous working installations scattered around the North Island rather like hydro dams in Tasmania. These are usually associated with pre-existing hot springs and geysers. NZ has the advantage of being volcanically active.

Another form of geothermal energy is “hot rock geothermal”. Volcanic activity is not required; instead what is needed is a large lump of granite. Granite is radioactive and heat builds up inside a sufficiently large volume.  An experimental project near Innamincka in SA, operated by Geodynamics P/L for many years, experienced numerous technical problems and was finally abandoned last year after consuming half a billion dollars. The biggest issues were the huge cost of drilling deep holes into granite and, in this case, remoteness from the market. What is needed is a better rock drill, something a quantum jump ahead of the diamond bit, and based on the thermal fracturing of rock, perhaps. As with hydro, storage is part of the process and not a problem. Like hydro, hot rock geothermal would be dispatchable.

A Market Economy waits for the breakthroughs;  a Command Economy does not recognize the issue.

Who knows what these breakthroughs will be? Let us hope that, when one occurs, this country still has a sufficiently robust economy to be able to benefit from it.

In 1958 Mao had some excuse for his actions. Russia had recently withdrawn 15,000 skilled technicians who had been helping China to industrialize. Mao knew that industrialization was essential if China was to survive. On the other hand, the renewable energy targets adopted by some Australian states are nothing more than virtue-signaling (it used to be called “cant”). The net effect of these RETs on Australia’s contribution to global warming is not even measurable.

SA’s power problems show that we have a good deal to lose by adopting this nonsense. It is hard to see what we might gain.

No cattle have been slaughtered yet

The Xhosa Cattle Killing Movement

In April or May 1856, the teenaged Nongqawuse and her friend Nombanda went to fetch water from a pool near the mouth of the Gxarha River. When she returned, Nongqawuse told her uncle and guardian Mhlakaza, a Xhosa spiritualist, that she had met the spirits of three of her ancestors.

She claimed that the spirits had told her that the Xhosa people should destroy their crops and kill their cattle, the source of their wealth as well as food. In return the spirits would sweep the British settlers into the sea. The Xhosa would be able to replenish the granaries, and fill the kraals with more beautiful and healthier cattle.

Mhlakaza repeated the prophecy to Paramount Chief Sarhili. Sarhili ordered his followers to obey the prophecy, causing the cattle-killing movement to spread to an unstoppable point. The cattle-killing frenzy affected not only the Gcaleka, Sarhili’s clan, but the whole of the Xhosa nation. Historians estimate that the Gcaleka killed between 300,000 and 400,000 head of cattle.

Nongqawuse predicted that the ancestors’ promise would be fulfilled on February 18, 1857, when the sun would turn red. On that day the sun rose the same colour as every other day, and the prophecy was not realised. Initially, Nongqawuse’s followers blamed those who had not obeyed her instructions, but they later turned against her.

In the aftermath of the crisis, the population of British Kaffraria dropped from 105,000 to fewer than 27,000 due to the resulting famine. ( )

This is just one example of a social disorder which sweeps through societies from time to time. It is called Millenarianism ( The symptoms are an end-of-days myth and an urgent need to take desparate action coupled with a belief in the absolute moral rightness of the cause. Usually there is a designated folk-demon group whose purpose is to undermine the myth. It is impossible to reason with the proponents because any attempt to do so is dismissed as the activity of the folk demon group. Often believers are members of an oppressed minority although it may well be that these circumstances provide fertile ground for a new myth to gain adherents and become well known.

The Xhosa incident can perhaps be dismissed as the consequence of a primitive culture and/or the poor education of those involved. Note however that these incidents have occurred throughout history and have afflicted many different cultures. The most dramatic was perhaps the Taiping Rebellion which ranks as the bloodiest civil war in human history.  Estimates of war dead range from 20 to 70 million, to as much as 100 million, as well as millions more displaced. These casualties occurred because one man thought he was the brother of Jesus and people believed him.

At the present time ISIS is perhaps the most deadly and dangerous functioning Millenarian group but it is not the only one.

On December 5, over 2,300 people packed into the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now! Speakers included Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said

[Circumstances we] now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history. They are literal threats to survival: nuclear war, environmental catastrophe. These are very urgent concerns. They cannot be delayed. They became more urgent on November 8th, for the reasons you know and that I mentioned. They have to be faced directly, and soon, if the human experiment is not to prove to be a disastrous failure.

Sound familiar?

According to Barack Obama the folk demons are the climate change deniers:

97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and man-made, and affecting communities in every part of the country.
Yet too many of our elected officials deny the science of climate change. Along with their polluter allies, they are blocking progress in the fight against climate change.
Find the deniers near you—and call them out today.
( )

The real threat to civilization is not climate change, it is Millenarian zealots like Chomsky and Obama and their millions of followers.

Millenarian eschatology is often complex, but there is always one, single, foundation myth that underpins the whole enterprise. The foundation myth of Environmentalism is of course dangerous, runaway, man-made climate change. This overides all considerations of common sense, of morality, of common decency, of rational discussion, of integrity, of the established principles of scientific research. When you are saving the planet all bets are off. Any attempts at reasoned argument are dismissed as the rantings of “climate deniers” and are ignored; the foundation myth cannot be questioned.

But isn’t it harmless?  After all, it is surely a good idea to keep the air clean and preserve the environment.

It has been relatively harmless up until now. No cattle have actually been slaughtered yet.

As with the Xhosa, our Millenarian myth is focused on the core wealth-producing instruments of our society. The Xhosa’s wealth was in their cattle, in our case it is in our power stations. Although the Green Hegemony has been gaining ground for a couple of decades, it is only now that its effects are beginning to be felt. Power stations such as Hazelwood have a 30 to 40 year lifespan. Hazelwood reached the end of its life as expected. Under normal circumstances a replacement power station would have been on the drawing board five years ago. Because of the climate change myth this did not happen. As more and more coal-fired power stations reach the end of their lives, the same thing will happen – no replacements.

Other than renewables of course.

Renewable energy is the sacred talisman of the Environmental movement, a sort of Promised Land. When renewable energy is discussed in environmental publications, at first sight it looks like a fait accompli but closer reading reveals a different story. Difficulties are glossed over and price comparisons with conventional power sources, distorted. A good example can be found at

The main challenge for renewables is to supply an extended period when wind and sunlight are scarce. In response, plans for 100% renewables tend to employ a mix of solutions. A partial answer is to simply build extra solar panels and wind turbines to maximise generation when the resource is weak.

They also recommend pumped hydro, concentrated solar thermal or batteries to overcome the intermittency problem. Pumped hydro requires hilly terrain and the other two methods are going to be hugely expensive notwithstanding their highly optimistic predictions of future pricing.

The thrust of the article is, as usual, about how we must use energy more efficiently in the home, e.g. Swimming pool water must be filtered, but this can be done at any time of the day.

But, as they ruefully admit: Commerce and industry make up about 70% of Australia’s electricity consumption and measures have already been identified for substantial reductions in this sector’s energy use. That’s right, we have to get our heads around the idea of running a steel foundry on car batteries. The most likely outcome is that such industries will up-stumps and leave.

This demonisation of coal and spruiking of dubious renewables is completely unnecessary. It entirely depends on belief in the Millenarian myth that humans are changing the climate by burning fossil fuels. It is a myth which can be shown to be false for the following reasons:

  1. There is no significant trend in global average temperature. Observed changes are due to the “red noise” character of environmental temperatures and are not significant.
  2. The bomb-test curve implies that observed recent increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration are largely natural.
  3. The total amount of CO2 added to the ocean-atmosphere system since the beginning of the industrial revolution is only about one percent of the total.

It is time this nonsense stopped before real, irreversible, economic damage is done. The South Australian incidents are a warning.

No cattle have been slaughtered yet but it may be about to start.

It’s all bollocks

My paper on the statistics of “global warming” has been accepted by Energy and Environment.

The good bits are as follows:

In recent decades energy policy, both nationally and internationally, has been primarily concerned with the reduction in carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. This has arisen from a proliferation of theories of climate, encapsulated in complex numerical models, which purport to relate global surface air temperature to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. All this activity is based on a single empirical observation, viz.: that there has been a significant increase in global average temperature over the last century and a half. Here we show that this observation is false and is based on an overly-simplistic interpretation of the data.

(Nine pages of technical stuff)

The process which gives rise to a red spectrum flattened below a cut-off frequency is widely found in engineering and in nature. In electronics it occurs when electronic noise is fed through an RC integrator as with the bass control of an audio amplifier. In the natural world it occurs when energy is randomly stored. It is a particular sort of Markov process termed a “centrally biased random walk” and known colloquially as “red noise”. Using the techniques described above other “oscillations” such as the Pacific Decade Oscillation can also be shown to be centrally biased random walks specified by a small number of ARMA parameters. This is not surprising since the PDO is derived from a large subset of the global average temperature data used here.

The small increase in global average temperature observed over the last 166 years is the random variation of a centrally biased random walk. It is a red noise fluctuation. It is not significant, it is not a trend and it is not likely to continue.

The full paper can be downloaded here.

John Reid

The South Australian Blackout II

Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria
Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria

The South Australian Blackout II

by Terence Cardwell

What does the future hold for South Australia?

It has become clear now that the failure of the South Australian Grid system was caused by the erratic behaviour, and then the sudden auto-shutdown, of the wind generators. This substantially increased the load on the Victoria-to-South Australia interconnector, which exceeded the maximum allowable load and tripped the overload system.

The badly-built towers that fell over would have been isolated in just one-tenth of a second by the system protection mechanism, and if the grid system had sufficient stable base-load power you would have seen just a ‘bump’ on the system voltage and frequency graphs, but this would have been nothing that it couldn’t handle under normal circumstances.

The New South Wales system could lose 2 x 660 MW units and still recover stability after the spinning reserve and the unit’s load maximum rate pickups came into action, all within a matter of seconds. But South Australia was a very under-protected and unstable grid system, with many little gas-fired powered stations trying to prop up an insane setup.

There is no doubt it will happen again and again; this was not a once off.

What now for the future of South Australia?

Any businesses, especially in manufacturing and mining, whether large or small, will tell you that one of the most important factors is the reliability of supply of electricity, and its cost. The bigger the enterprise, the more important it is.

Now that South Australia has shown itself to be unreliable and expensive in this regard, companies will be making every effort to leave it in droves. Any business planning to go there now would be having very serious doubts about whether they should do so.

Any business in South Australia right now would be very nervous, especially a company such as BHP-Billiton that had to pay some $2,400,000 for the essential power it had to have: power that would have cost only $500,000 normally from the S.A. grid. This is because the South Australian price was a staggering $300 a Megawatt.hour; in any other state it would have been much cheaper at about $60 per Megawatt.hour.

The irony is that in all probability the power being used presently comes through the Victorian interconnector, and is supplied from brown-coal power stations. The even bigger hypocrisy is that the Greens want to close down the very power stations that are supplying power to South Australia.

So what can S.A. do to fix this major dilemma?

There is no short term solution.

There is only one way solve the problem: stable power supplies are essential, whether generated by thermal or nuclear power stations. Little power stations are expensive, and a waste of taxpayers’ money. Not to build large and efficient units would be like a return to New South Wales in the 1950s.

Infrastructure planning must be based on advice from skilled and experienced experts; South Australia’s power problems show what happens when planning decisions are based on Environmentalist piety instead.

The South Australian Blackout


The South Australian Blackout.
by Terence Cardwell

This is NOT a once off event- it will happen again in the not too distant future and continue to do so.

Why? Because of the continual instability created in the grid system by the constantly changing wind generators and the reliance of power from Victoria, who have to continually get them out of their insane situation.

Any change in power generation from the wind generators has to be compensated for and chased by thermal power generation units which decreases their efficiency substantially and more than obviates any gain from wind generators. These severe load changes can create a power wave within the grid system that causes instability as the thermal units try to match the wind generators’ severe load changes.

Because the winds were so severe the wind generators would already have been non-operative and locked. So that 40% of the power was already out of service before the blackout. If the wind generators were allowed to operate in such severe winds they would have torn themselves apart.

So YES the wind generators DID cause the blackout by increasing the load substantially on the Victoria to S.A. interconnector.

It is the first time in the history of power generation in Australia that transmission towers have fallen over and we have seen far more severe weather than the S.A. storm. (I have personally operated units in such weather with no blackouts or instability in the grid system even though we lost two units. One of them being mine. The unit transformer was hit by a 20ft sheet of roofing aluminium torn of in the storm.)

Even though the towers had collapsed the grid system should not have gone out because the line protections covering those towers would have tripped within 6 cycles i.e. one tenth of a second, isolating them from the grid and protecting the rest of the grid system.

The hypocrisy of the South Australian Government is unbelievable. Because they had knocked down their black bituminous coal fired thermal power stations they had insufficient power. So then they had to import it from Victoria through the state interconnector which was never intended for that purpose. When the interconnector exceeded its maximum load capacity, it tripped, as it was supposed to do.

Guess where the imported power is generated? Yes Victoria—but where? The brown coal fired thermal power stations that have a thermal efficiency half of that of the black coal fired power stations that South Australia decommissioned to pander to the Greens.

The average price for electricity in South Australia with its 40% renewable energy is over $300 per megawatt hour. The average cost of electricity in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania is around $80.00 per megawatt hour.

To those gullible people who are so passionate about  ‘clean energy’ you can expect similar prices in the other states should they adopt South Australia’s renewable energy program.
Terry Cardwell worked for 25 years for the Electricity Commission of NSW working, commissioning and operating the various power units. His last commission was at the Munmorah Power Station near Newcastle, with four, very large, 350 MW power generating units.

He blogs at

There is no significant trend in global average temperature


The wiggly line in Figure (a) shows the global average surface temperature anomaly for the last 166 years.  The solid line shows the so-called “trend” fitted by ordinary least squares regression of temperature on time. The dashed curve shows this trend plus a “multidecadal oscillation”.

Figure (b) shows the time series of residuals, i.e. what is left behind when the dashed line is subtracted from the original data.

Figure (c) shows the autocorrelation function of the residuals. These are all positive from Lag = 1 to Lag = 30 indicating that the residuals are highly self-correlated and that this simple linear regression model must be rejected at a high level of significance.

However an alternative, stochastic, “ARMA” model gives residuals which are not self-correlated and which does fit the data very well indeed. This model indicates that there are no significant trends and oscillations in the data.

The apparent trend is due to the false correlation which occurs when “red noise” data are regressed on time as the explanatory variable. This phenomenon is well known in Econometrics.

There is no rising trend in global average temperature. The observed variations are due entirely to red noise  also known as a “centrally biased random walk”.

The paper has been accepted by Energy and Environment. A preprint can be downloaded as 0958305×16686447

John Reid

Editor, Blackjay

The Troubling Science


Michael Hart is a Canadian academic with an impressive list of credentials. He has just put out a book – Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change.

This article covers many of the topics that have been raised here at Blackjay over the last couple of years. It is must-read for anyone with lingering doubts about the supposed urgent need for action on climate change.

For example: Alarm over a changing climate leading to malign results is in many ways the product of the hunger for stability and direction in a post-Christian world. Humans have a deep, innate need for a transcendent authority. Having rejected the precepts of Christianity, people in the advanced economies of the West are turning to other forms of authority. Putting aside those who cynically exploit the issue for their own gain – from scientists and politicians to UN leaders and green businesses – most activists are deeply committed to a secular, statist, anti-human, earth-centric set of beliefs which drives their claims of a planet in imminent danger from human activity. To them, a planet with fewer people is the ultimate goal, achievable only through centralized direction and control. As philosopher of science Jeffrey Foss points out, “Environmental science conceives and expresses humankind’s relationship to nature in a manner that is – as a matter of observable fact – religious.” It “prophesies an environmental apocalypse. It tells us that the reason we confront apocalypse is our own environmental sinfulness. Our sin is one of impurity. We have fouled a pure, ‘pristine’ nature with our dirty household and industrial wastes. The apocalypse will take the form of an environmental backlash, a payback for our sins. … environmental scientists tell people what they must do to be blameless before nature.”

The interview concludes: it will take a determined effort by people of faith and conscience to convince our political leaders that they have been gulled by a political movement exploiting fear of climate change to push a utopian, humanist agenda that most people would find abhorrent. As it now stands, politicians are throwing money that they do not have at a problem that does not exist in order to finance solutions that make no difference. The time has come to call a halt to this nonsense and focus on real issues that pose real dangers. In a world beset by war, terrorism, and continuing third-world poverty, there are far more important things on which political leaders need to focus.

It may be nitpicking but the one thing I disagree with is his use of the term “humanist” in the final paragraph. Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence over acceptance of dogma or superstition. The utopian agenda is certainly not humanist. Any philosophy in which wilderness has greater value than community, in which humans are seen as a “scourge on the planet” a la Attenborough and which supports the dogma and pseudo-science of climate change is certainly not humanist.

But I agree with him about the rest of it.

John Reid



If the link doesn’t work, you can download a PDF from here: MichaelHartInterview.

A Young Person’s Guide to the Greenhouse Effect

Global temperature for the last 140,000 years estimated from ice core data. Orange: recorded history (7,000 years). Blue: temperature variation during the 20th Century (0.8 deg C). 11,000ya to 19,000ya: “Termination I”. 19,000ya to 110,000ya: the “Last Ice Age”. 120,000ya to 130,000ya the previous interglacial, the “Eemian” which was evidently warmer than the present one, the “Holocene”.
Global temperature for the last 140,000 years estimated from ice core data. Orange: recorded history (7,000 years). Blue: temperature variation during the 20th Century (0.8 deg C). 11,000ya to 19,000ya: “Termination I”. 19,000ya to 110,000ya: the “Last Ice Age”. 120,000ya to 130,000ya the previous interglacial, the “Eemian” which was evidently warmer than the present one, the “Holocene”.

Climate change is a hot topic. Despite the experts telling us that ‘the
science is settled’ it just does not appear to be the case. This is the first in a series of Guides which describe the science issues in language that ordinary people can understand.

How did it all it start?

It really started not long after the Second World War when Rachel Carson wrote a book called The Silent Spring. She used that title to tell us that one year, when spring arrives, there may be no birds singing because they have all been killed by pollution. People started to realize that the environment was very important and that Mankind could destroy it or stop it from working properly.
A wonderful new insecticide had been discovered during the War called DDT. It was very cheap to make and very effective. It was soon being used everywhere to kill malaria-carrying mosquitos and insects that ate farm crops. Then scientists began to notice side effects. Some wild birds had stopped breeding properly because small amounts of left-over chemicals from DDT in the food-chain made their eggshells too thin and the eggs broke before their chicks had hatched properly. DDT chemicals were even found in birds in Antarctica tens of thousands of miles away from where it had been used.

At the same time people were also worried about nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. For the first time the idea of wiping out all humans or all life on Earth appeared to be a real possibility.

These things really scared the hell out of people.

As a result the Environmental Movement sprang up. It is still going
today. Many of these problems have been fixed but people still feel very anxious about pollution and keeping our planet safe. It’s the only one we’ve got.

Why is Carbon Dioxide so important?

Back in the 1950’s Charles Keeling started making very precise and regular measurements of the amount of various gases in the atmosphere to see if they were changing. He did his experiments on a mountain in Hawaii a long way away from industry and traffic because he wanted to get an idea of what was happening on a global scale. These measurements are still being made in Hawaii today and in a number of other places such as the Base Line Monitoring Station at Cape Grim in Tasmania. All the measurements showed that one gas, Carbon Dioxide, CO2 , has been steadily increasing all over the world. At the same time the average temperature of the earth has also been increasing (but not quite so steadily).

Because the environment scare and the nuclear war scare were fresh in people’s minds they decided that the two things were connected and that rising CO2 must be causing the temperature to go up. They started calling CO2 a ‘pollutant’ like DDT and radioactive fallout. The increase in CO2 is supposed to be due to humans burning coal and oil in industry but there are other explanations for it.
Many scientists believe there has been an hysterical over-reaction to these  observations and that, apart from the fact that both CO2 and temperature have both been increasing recently, there is really no evidence to connect the two things. It is just a delayed reaction to the ‘Future Shock’ of the scary 1950s.

But isn’t CO2 a greenhouse gas?

By ‘greenhouse gas’ we mean a gas that absorbs long-wave infrared radiation (LWIR). There are three main ones: CO2 , H2 O and O3 (ozone).

There is a simple mechanism by which greenhouses and cars get hot in the sun. Visible light from the sun comes in through the windows and heats the car seats. When things are heated they give off radiation with wavelengths that depend on the temperature. The sun is very hot so it gives out visible light and short-wave infrared. The car seats, although they are hot, are still much cooler than the sun so they give out LWIR. You can’t see it but you can feel it on your skin. The important thing is that LWIR doesn’t go through glass! So it gets trapped inside the car and the car gets hot.

In the same way sunlight comes in through the atmosphere and heats
the rocks and the grass and the sea which give off the LWIR which cannot get back out through the atmosphere because of the greenhouse gases so the earth stays warm just like the inside of a car in the sun.

If there were no greenhouse gases the earth would be −18 C(0 F) on average. This happens sometimes and we get an ice-age. Ice-ages are like leaving the car windows down.

Now here is the crunch: cars with thick glass windows don’t get any
hotter in the sun than cars with thin glass windows. Thin and thick glass both stop the LWIR almost completely.

Unless we are in an ice-age, adding more CO2 to the atmosphere
does not make it any warmer!

Then how does the earth lose the heat from the sun if the LWIR cannot get past the atmosphere? The earth should be getting hotter and hotter like a car in the hot sun.

I was only talking about radiation. There is another way that heat can get out. It is called convection: ‘hot air rises’. The most spectacular convection occurs during tropical storms. Hot moist air from the surface of the sea starts to rise. As it rises it expands and cools. As it cools water comes out as rain.  This warms the air again so it rises even faster. Huge amounts of energy are released and the net effect is to carry heat from the surface of the ocean to the top of the atmosphere where the greenhouse gases are so thin that radiation kicks in. The excess heat is then radiated into space.
This is why the temperature of the tropical ocean seldom rises above
28 C (83 F). When it gets too hot, a tropical cyclone happens which cools everything down again.

Something similar happens at cooler latitudes but it is a lot less dramatic.

How do we know this? Everyone knows that as you get higher in the
atmosphere it gets cooler as you get away from the source of the heat.

True. There is snow at the top of mountains, even in the tropics.
If you compress a gas it gets hotter as anyone who has pumped up a bike tyre will know. We can predict how much hotter using the science of thermodynamics. If you let air expand it will cool down.

Imagine a parcel of air moving upwards. The pressure gets less and it
expands. When it expands it cools down. Thermodynamics tells us exactly how much it will cool down and exactly what the decrease in temperature will be for every meter you go up. For a stable atmosphere this is called ‘the adiabatic lapse rate’. It is measured hundreds of times a day with weather balloons.

Theory fits observation very well indeed. It has nothing to do with
greenhouse gases.

When CO2 and water vapour in the atmosphere increased at
the end of the last Ice Age, which had lasted for more than 80,000
years, it made the earth warm again . It made the big ice caps melt
and raised the level of the ocean. That happened 11,000 years ago
and created a boom time for Homo Sapiens (us). Apart from a few
random fluctuations, our climate has been remarkably warm and
stable ever since.

A pdf version of this post can be downloaded here: YPGTGE.