With my feet in the fridge…

…and my head in the oven, I am experiencing an average level of comfort.

The Sydney Morning Herald Climate Change Bot ™ has produced this month’s weather article.

That’s a shocking headline, isn’t it? My only surprise is why it didn’t warrant a solid Peter Hannam-esque “Extreme Weather” tagline?

Seriously, 7 degrees is a long way above the average, even if it is caveated with both a “likely to” and an “up to”.

Except….

The missing piece of data is what the range encompasses.

Ah, 25.9 to 2.2 degrees.

That’s quite a temperature range for July, eh? The mean maximum is 16.4 degrees, (up to) 7 degrees above that is still 2.5 below the maximum recorded July temperature.

Bill’s Opinion

This isn’t #FakeNews, it’s simply #NotNews.

Hold the front page; winter is cooler than summer this year but well within the expected range based on observations.

By the way, in a surprise development, Jenny Noye’s degree was on the solid scientific subjects of media and gender studies. One assumes any “deviations” taught on the curriculum wouldn’t be of the statistical standard type.

Give me that old time religion

There’s a brutal civil war being waged within veganism, apparently.

Stop laughing at the back.

The battle is one between the highly-committed vegans and those who take a more casual attitude to it.

Of course, it’s all relative (as they say in East Anglia); to describe a lifestyle decision to cut meat and all animal products out of your life as “casual” is to minimise the contortions they must endure.

Nonetheless, the vegans are eating their own.

As an advert for the lifestyle, vegans are rarely attractive poster material, both visually but also psychologically. The “Vegan Comedy” Netflix category is not trending high in the charts for good reason.

Complete lack of humour aside, a simple skip through the article indicates underlying psychological issues with each of the adherents to this lifestyle;

Around his late 30s, however, Faulkner’s health began declining. He developed severe back pain and crippling haemorrhoids. He had so little energy that he was struggling to do his job as a primary school teacher. Worse still, he had erectile dysfunction, and was “even looking at using Viagra”. One day he was searching the internet for answers when he came across an Australian vegan YouTuber called Freelee The Banana Girl. Freelee, whose real name is Leanne Ratcliffe, is a former cocaine- and speed-using bulimic from Queensland who found fame in 2014 by spruiking a raw vegan diet that consisted of up to 51 bananas a day.

There’s quite a lot to unpack there…

Firstly, if Faulkner didn’t have back pain, haemorrhoids, and erectile dysfunction for the first 40 years of his (carnivorous) life, it seems less than logical to seek banana remedies from bulimic ex-junkies on YouTube rather than, say, medical professionals.

There’s more;

Freelee’s then boyfriend, Durian Rider (real name: Harley Johnstone), is also an avid vegan whose “fruitarian” diet allowed him to become an endurance cyclist.

Perhaps the least controversial thing one can say about endurance athletes is that they are an “outlier”. It takes a certain kind of mind to be motivated to train for events that require hours (or even days) of constant intense exercise.

There then follows a description of Faulkner’s Damascene conversion and transformation into a vegan activist. Once you’ve accepted as true one or two assertions, the logic takes you to several subsequent actions;

Call yourself an animal lover? If you’re not a vegan, you can’t be an animal lover. Call yourself an environmentalist? Animal agriculture causes up to 18 per cent of global greenhouse emissions – so unless you’re a vegan, you can’t be an environmentalist.

Here’s an interesting revelation though;

After leaving teaching, Faulkner started a business holding discos for primary school kids, but has now reduced his school visits from four a week to one per week. “I don’t have any children, so it’s enough for me to survive on.”

Hmm. More on that later.

Once you’re in the activist trench, you’re in deep;

Right now, his preferred form of activism is the Cube of Truth.

Originally developed in Melbourne, a Cube of Truth involves activists standing in a square, facing outward, holding signs or, in tonight’s case, TV monitors. The monitors, which are powered by a portable generator, play a constant loop of what is possibly the most confronting footage I have ever seen, including piglets in holding pens drowning in their own excrement, cows having their necks sliced open, and live baby male chicks being fed into a macerator, where they are ground up into pet food. ”

Here’s Andy Faulkner on a Cube of Truth event;

Strictly speaking, it’s a square not a cube, unless people are standing on people’s shoulders.

Bill’s Opinion

Muslims who murder non-believers in order to enter paradise are acting in a manner that is entirely consistent with their religion. It’s all there in their sacred texts, there’s no point criticising them for misinterpreting “kill the infidels“.

An argument with a jihadi on the basis of interpretation is a strategy bound to fail. The problem is far earlier in the logical sequence; the basis of the revelation is not sound. Mohammed didn’t have a direct line to Allah and therefore anything he wrote is false.

You know where I’m going with this….

Jihadis, in the West especially, are almost exclusively socially-awkward males who have been unsuccessful in many areas of their lives, be it career, romance, social, etc. By accepting one false premise, they then trace a subsequently highly consistent path resulting in their tragic actions.

Let’s return to the radical vegan, Andy Faulkner. It would seem from the article, the pinnacle of his career was being a Primary School teacher, yet he has no children of his own (is he single? We aren’t told). He seeks health advice from ex-junkies with eating disorders and endurance athletes on YouTube. He requires the rest of society to make a radical change to his chosen lifestyle….so we can all be as happy and joyous as him.

I have a question for Andy Faulkner; how tidy is your room?

We couldn’t car less

Uber will be launching a flying car service, with Melbourne, Australia, chosen as the first trial location.

Wow! We really are living in the age of the Jetsons.

Imagine the convenience of being able to step out of one’s office, hail a taxi and then sit back in luxury as its electric-powered motors glide you up noiselessly and smoothly up in the air to your destination anywhere in the city under the control of the auto pilot.

Ok, you won’t be able to hail it from your office, you’ll have to got to a designated helipad.

Ok, you can’t go exactly anywhere, it’ll just be to the main airport and back.

Ok, it won’t be powered by electric batteries but aviation fuel.

And they’ll be an expensively-trained and qualified pilot at the controls.

But it definitely flies!

All right, as you were people: Uber has bought a helicopter and are entering the executive city to airport transfer market. We haven’t just stepped in to an episode of Buck Rogers after all.

What is it about using the word “car” as a suffix that makes us suspend our normal analytical skills?

Other examples include electric cars, i.e. coal-fired cars, unless the national grid has gone 100% renewable, and self-driving cars, which have about as much chance of being approved today in most jurisdictions as single malt whisky would be if alcohol was a new drug and needed to apply for a licence

Yet here we are, with gushing news articles telling us about the revolutionary future we are entering because, I dunno, boats amphibious cars have just been invented or some such drivel.

Bill’s Opinion

The only revolution that will make any tangible dent in the current economics of public or private transport is the realisation of the autonomous vehicle dream.

Every other potential change involves the same quantum of input costs as the current version. Flying “cars” that still need a qualified pilot are going to be affordable to exactly the same people who currently use helicopters.

A car that uses battery power still requires the same amount of energy to overcome friction. Unless we’ve found a new source of energy, electric vehicles are simply an incremental change. And whatever we do, let’s not mention nuclear energy, by the way…. Green narratives need to be respected after all.

Autonomous vehicles, on the other hand, would remove the requirement for an expensive, error prone, wet computer in the driving seat.

Ironically, that’s the change we’re furthest from experiencing.

It’s no game

Well, this isn’t very good for “the narrative”, is it?

And, being commercially astute, some of the snow resorts in Australia have opened early, one of them has made it a free weekend for skiers and even those snowboarder scum.

Something’s not quite right here. After all, here’s a scientific, peer-reviewed prediction from 2005;

Modelling for 2020 and 2050 shows that the resort with the most remaining snow will be Perisher, in NSW, followed in order by Falls Creek, Mount Hotham, Thredbo and Mount Buller. The smaller resorts of Mount Buffalo, Mount Baw Baw and Lake Mountain become marginal for skiing at 2020, even in the most optimistic scenarios.

Awkwardly, 1 year from doom and Mount Buller has opened a week earlier than normal, which is a shame as some of us were expecting to go there for a camping and mountain bike holiday next weekend. Imagine our surprise to learn they’ve had a blizzard, despite the predictions of the taxpayer-funded CISRO.

But this is surely a one off, an anomaly, an outlier on the hockey stick of doom?

But wait, what happened last year?

Oh, they extended the season;

Bill’s Opinion

Climate change is both a religion and an industry.

As Mencken said;

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve. This is true even of the pious brethren who carry the gospel to foreign parts.

Man made pollution

Peter “weather is climate” Hannan is back on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald with the shocking news that Sydney is enveloped in smoke this week.

The smoke is a result of preventative burning by the State Government department responsible for managing the risk of dangerous bush fires. It’s an annual occurrence everyone who’s lived there is completely used to.

Consider then, the headline and stub offered; 

Yes, technically a deliberately-lit fire in the bush is a bushfire, but it’s not the same as an out of control, random event destroying lives and property. As for the ambient temperature in Sydney right now…. near-record warmth isn’t the most persuasive language that could be employed, is it Mr. Hannan?

Apparently, Peter Hannan was nearly an Olympic sprinter, nearly a more successful rock musician than Keith Richards and nearly a respected journalist writing about science.

There’s more language obfuscation fun to be had in his column, as is his idiom; 

Almost eight degrees above the May average. Students of statistics might wish to comment on what, if any, conclusions can be drawn from the information that a data point is higher or lower than the average of a range of data points (clue: the only conclusion that can be drawn is that you need to see more contextual data about the data range and standard deviations before you can draw a conclusion).

It was also the second warmest day this late in year season (sic) on record for Sydney, exceeded only by the 28 degree reading on May, 225, 1994.

We could read that as good news, couldn’t we? In 25 years, we’ve still not beaten the highest recorded temperature. Trend much?

Bill’s Opinion

Back burning is a good idea if you’d like people to not die from bush fires (most of which are deliberately set by arsonists or accidents, by the way, somewhat ruining Peter’s usual assertion that climate change causes bush fires).

Warm weather that doesn’t break records isn’t news.

Stop playing truant, Greta fucking Thunberg.

When the left eat their own, buy popcorn

Most of what passes for politics in Australia is an utter snorefest, for a few reasons, not least is the very small pool of talent that thinks to itself, “hmm, what my life needs is the public scrutiny of national politics“. Other countries with larger populations enjoy the availability of more intelligent and capable politicians such as, erm, Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn,

The only really interesting moments in Aussie politics are when the tribes find themselves in internecine conflict. The source of such amusement is often a rude interruption of reality at the intersection of two deeply-held positions that are logically inconsistent.

One current example is the case of the proposed Carmichael coal mine, sometimes referred to by its owner, the Adani Group.

Those on the left are faced with a navigational conundrum; find a safe passage between jobs for their blue collar “base” and the all-powerful global religion of climate change.

The tofu-eating effeminates in the gentrified areas of Australia’s cities will be forced to virtue signal by voting Green if Labor show too much support for the mine while the burger-eating bogans in the rural areas set to benefit most from the new jobs will vote for any number of other parties if the support isn’t sincere enough.

The blogger and journalist, Tim Blair, summarises the leader of the opposition’s amusing bind and hilarious procrastination here. Bodes well for a decisive future Prime Minister, doesn’t it?

But then, we shouldn’t be surprised as he has a public track record of avoiding taking a position on anything as this bizarre exchange from a few years ago illustrates:

One of the most powerful forces on the side of the pro-Adani lobby is the unlikely-looking union bully, Sally McManus, a woman who never knowingly let her face register pleasure or delight:

One suspects the word “compromise” is not highlighted in her dictionary. “Frivolity” and “joviality“, also.

Bill is going to be providing those of us with a desire to see the world burn with huge amusement over the next few weeks.

Bill’s Opinion

As people as diverse as Scott Adams and Bill Gates are loudly pointing out, we have a solution to climate change already.

It doesn’t even matter whether you believe climate change is a problem either; there’s enough people in the world who do and are prepared to cripple the economy to combat it. We need to find a way to satisfy their desires whilst not killing the capitalism golden goose responsible for the modern miracles we’ve had in the last two centuries.

The answer is Generation IV nuclear energy.

Great news for Australians; you’ve got domestic deposits of uranium so could be completely self-sufficient in producing all the dirt cheap domestic energetic you’ll ever need.

Bad news for Australians; the only politician talking about it is Clive Palmer, guaranteeing it will remain outside of the mainstream political discussion for the foreseeable future.

Hey BBC, we’re not on the Julian Calendar either

We can all thank the British taxpayers for funding both the Meteorology Office that wrote this press release and the BBC that published it without engaging their brain (or perhaps they were knowingly participating in obfuscation):

It shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but it seems we must;

According to the Metonic cycle, the Paschal Full Moon falls on a recurring sequence of 19 dates ranging from March 21 to April 18. Since Easter happens on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, it can fall on any date between March 22 and April 25 (years 1753-2400).

Therefore, Easter Monday this year is only 2 days earlier than the latest possible date it could be. In the northern hemisphere, this means it’s up to four weeks closer to summer than many of the previous occurrences.

Presumably there are other news articles hiding from a Google search bemoaning the record cold in the Southern Hemisphere this Easter Monday?

Bill’s Opinion

These people are either fools or knaves.

As Carl Benjamin pointed out at his hilarious press conference last week, the BBC has a one star rating for trust on the TrustPilot review site. One can’t think why.

Eat the rich

The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health brings together more than 30 world-leading scientists from across the globe to reach a scientific consensus that defines a healthy and sustainable diet.

The Commission is delivering the first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system, and which actions can support and speed up food system transformation.

Right, so you’re going to tell everyone in the world what to eat. Ok. Good luck.

Why is the EAT-Lancet Commission needed?

Erm, I suppose the answer isn’t, “to give 22 full time staff and 30 affiliated scientists salaries and access to more research grants”?

Why is the EAT-Lancet Commission needed?

Food systems are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. They are the main user of fresh water, a leading driver of biodiversity loss, land-use change and cause eutrophication or dead zones in lakes and coastal areas. Simultaneously, unhealthy diets are the leading risk factor for disease worldwide, causing rapidly growing rates of Non-communicable-Diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers. Vast global undernutrition is adding mounting pressure to these challenges. In other words, how we grow, process, transport, consume and waste food is hurting both people and planet.

That paragraph started and ended with concern about the planet, with a little sliver of concerns about people as the meat in the sandwich.

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement targets to reduce carbon emissions means urgently and fundamentally changing the way we eat and produce food. But key questions remain unanswered and a lack of scientific consensus is slowing down governments, businesses and civil society actors who want to take action

Right, so it’s less about what the best diet is for me and my family and more about how I can change my diet to achieve the godawful wealth transfer for no tangible outcome that is the Paris Agreement.

• We don’t have a scientific consensus to define what is a healthy diet for all humans.

• We don’t have a comprehensive review of how food production must change to be sustainable.

• We don’t have clear, science-based guidelines telling all actors how we can provide humans with healthy diets from a sustainable food system.

Yes, understood; it’s about the planet more than my health.

In fact, if you really have any interest in reducing malnutrition you’d be spending all your time and effort trying to continue this trend;

Seriously; something has gone very seriously right in the fight against global malnutrition. Work out what it was and do more of it and NOW.

Bill’s Opinion

When I want advice on what changes to my diet I should make, I will ask a medical professional, not a climate scientist, and the opinion I will seek will be specific, not general.

The 22 staff of the Eat Forum team are paid a salary from money donated by The Stordalen Foundation, The Stockholm Resilience Centre, and The Wellcome Trust, the first two of which have “climate” as their prime concerns.

Don’t take dietary advice from people who’s agenda is to save the planet before saving individual humans and who, in fact, view humans populations as an exercise in statistics.

Climate change maths salad

Like cooking, journalisming has its best results when using seasonal ingredients. January wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory look at all the weather records that were broken the previous calendar year. Here’s the Sydney Morning Herald’s effort, under the tagline “extreme weather” (“climate change” seemingly out of favour recently, suggesting some bet hedging is going on).

Unfortunately, the climate team’s intern, Nicole Hasham, was given the task of assembling the maths salad and, as we will see, is really not as competent at the task as her senior colleague, Peter “weather is climate” Hannam.

Regurgitating Quoting a Bureau of Meteorology report, Nicole starts off poorly;

Where to start?

Well, perhaps the first point to make is that averages, by their very definition need some values above and some values below. It would be remarkable if no temperatures were experienced above average during a long enough timescale.

It seems somewhat depressing to have to explain this to a senior climatologist (now there’s a job title of our time) and an environment and energy correspondent. At least one of them will have studied statistics in high school, not that you’d be able to guess it from the statement above.

The second point, and it seems somewhat obvious, is that the climate has no concept of a state or territory.

Finally, does Nicole understand, or expect her readers to understand, what “second warmest on record for daily high temperatures” means?

Or perhaps the only important words she wants us to read are “second warmest“?

Next up is a bunch of rainfall maths salad;

We dealt with this at the time.

Subsequently, the rain came along but just a little delayed.

To be fair to Nicole, she did regurgitate quote the report on this. It probably proves something significant and negative in her mind though;

“Respite”.

It’s almost as if, I dunno, the climate is a complex system that doesn’t drop a consistent volume of rain during a man made time interval known by the English noun, “month”.

This would be amusing if the Australian taxpayer weren’t picking up the bill for this so called “science”;

“Increasingly influenced by global warming”.

Really. Do tell us whose fault this is;

“Can only be explained by human influence”? Well, there’s the Scientific Method dispensed with in just 7 words. One can imagine the reception a researcher would get if they tried to apply for a grant to investigate the influence of solar cycles on global temperature.

Finally, we get to the chart that reveals Australia’s record-breaking run of rising temperatures;

That looks shocking, especially with all that red on the chart.

Let’s look a little closer at the scale and labels though….

The Y-axis is interesting; why set the zero point as the average of 1961 to 1990? Why not take the average of the entire time range? What would that chart look like? Sadly, we don’t know because, as far as I can tell, they haven’t published the data behind the chart. Here’s the link to the original report, where we learn that the chart is showing the anomaly; Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961–1990) average. We also discover that the chart above shows, Mean temperature anomalies averaged over Australia, again, calculated against the 1960-91 average for some unknown reason.

Wait, averaged over Australia“? WHAT???? 

So, in summary, you took ALL of the mean temperatures recorded across the entire continent of Australia, averaged them and then compared that against a similar average between the years 1960-91 on a chart starting at 1900?

What insight, pray tell, was this exercise supposed to result in?

 

Bill’s Opinion

To answer my final question above, this chart that is supposed to reveal Australia’s record-breaking run of rising temperatures does nothing of the sort. What it shows is a sliced, diced, mixed together, re-diced and re-sliced set of data and then selectively colour-coded to scare people who don’t understand statistics.

By which, I mean Sydney Morning Herald environment correspondents. Well, either Nicole doesn’t understand statistics or she’s blatantly pushing a political agenda and pushing it with lies.

Which is it Nicole?

Let’s face it, this is the climate science equivalent of a collateral debt obligation, and we all know where that led.

UPDATE; I made an error regarding means vs. median in the original post. That sentence has been deleted.


Sometimes “free” is more expensive in the long term

On my Creepbook for Business feed, the following paid content appeared today;

This piqued my interest because I’ve long suspected that, if species preservation of the “big five” in Africa was agreed to be an important aim (excuse the pun), then making hunting an efficient and sustainable industry would be the most probable route to success.

Certainly, if observable results were something one took seriously, nearly every alternative that had been tried so far hasn’t worked effectively

Similarly, if we wanted to significantly reduce the impact of poaching of elephants and rhino for ivory, flooding the market with cheaper farmed ivory might well be the only solution.

I suppose there are two other alternatives; either raise the standard of living in sub-Saharan Africa to a level where there were plenty of other employment opportunities that didn’t involve killing elephants or persuade a billion Chinese people that ivory powder doesn’t cure bone tumours.

Ockham’s Razor suggests farming is the most likely solution.

I’m not an expert on the complexities of African hunting economics, politics and species protection so I’ll defer to others with more insight.

However, the link to ENergise REsources was intriguing. Firstly, that’s a really annoying capitalisation of the 2nd letters and secondly, who are they what are they all about?

From their website;

Ok, on the one hand it’s admirable that they are offering services pro bono to charities. On the other hand, they are clearly quite choosy about which charities they are going to help.

Which charities?

Basically, any that work in the fields of the Guardian’s favourite cause célèbres.

Exhibit A;

Exhibit B;

Exhibit C;

The website shows a list and the profiles of the current members (about 25 of them) and, frankly, there’s nary a single private sector worker amongst them. If you were a charity looking for some pro bono advice from an IT professional with exactly the same ideas and experience as every other IT professional who’s ever worked for you, you’ve come to the right place.

What’s really amusing though, is the unthinking acceptance of the Guardian/BBC/NY Times prioritisation of issues to be solved. If you hadn’t read the previous paragraphs on this page and I had asked you to write a list of the top 10 priorities for left wing charities, I imagine you’d have repeated nearly all the content on their website.

This is an alternative approach that they have not considered however;

Bjorn Lømborg’s Copenhagen Consensus.

Bill’s Opinion

The refreshing thing about the Copenhagen Consensus is their recognition that, when talking about about finite resources, environmentalists almost always forget that economic resources and human hours are also finite; a dollar spent on the solution to a problem cannot be spent on another problem. Similarly, an hour of your time spent on one solution can’t be re-spent somewhere else.

In fact, it’s worse than that; there are a myriad of potential solutions to the same problem, and logic states these should be prioritised by likely success and impact.

In effect, what the Copenhagen Consensus recognises that few others in the field do, or choose to ignore, is the concept of opportunity cost.

Once you apply that economic lens, our old friend Vilfredo Pareto can bring his ruler into play and measure which activities we should do first and which we should drop because they only feel nice rather than doing any good.

But if you really want to confirm that Lømborg is an outcome-driven, facts don’t care about your feelings sort of chap, sign up to the website; when you’re asked to select a country of residence, they list USA first, not Afghanistan.

This is a group that logical thinkers can get behind without having to suffer the ideological crap.

How refreshing.