Really Bad Astronomy

Phil Plait is up to his usual mendacity in the Arctic

ScreenHunter_2569 Sep. 06 07.39

Global warming denial: Claims of Arctic ice recovering are exaggerated.

According to the University of Washington, Arctic sea ice volume is up 27% from last year, and 64% since 2012.

ScreenHunter_2568 Sep. 06 07.37

If those numbers were reversed, Plait would be consider them the most important topic on Earth. As they are, he chooses to ignore them.

h/t to Alec, aka daffy duck

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61 Responses to Really Bad Astronomy

  1. bit chilly says:

    yet again an alarmist with a short memory , we were told anthropogenic CO2 would overwhelm natural variability causing an arctic death spiral, rapid increase in sea level rise, increased surface temperatures in line with rising CO2 levels ,increased droughts ,increase in hurricanes and tornadoes and many other disasters .

    looking at predictions versus reality,i can only conclude,like all alarmists,phil is talking bollocks.

  2. omanuel says:

    Phil is not at fault! Adherence to lock-step, consensus dogma has prevented him from understanding that the rate of “H-fusion” in the Sun and ordinary stars [1] is controlled by the rate at which H is generated by neutron-emission and n-decay from the Sun’s pulsar core

    Click to access Solar_Energy.pdf

    That is why the Sun and ordinary stars do not exhibit the “runaway fusion” recently confirmed in supernova, SN 2014J [2].

    1. Borexino Collaboration (~100 coauthors), ” Neutrinos from the primary proton-proton fusion process in the Sun,” Nature 512, 383-386 (28 Aug 2014):

    2. Daniel Clery, “Supernova breaks the mold,” Science 345, 993 (29 Aug 2014):

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Gail Combs says:

      Phil is very much at fault.

      Every single one of us has free will. Some are brave enough to stand up for their principles. Others are outright cowards who go along to get along. A few are sociopaths who are only concerned with THEIR power, wealth and comfort and see the rest of us as so many sheep to be sheared. If we do not cooperate they will become so angry they will kill us if they can.

      • omanuel says:


        For me personally, it is best to forgive others for behaving as I did for the first sixty years of life: Arrogant, selfish and self-centered.

        Egomaniacs trying to cover a deep inferiority complex.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Oliver, for those who try to right a wrong they have done in their youth, fine I can forgive them,

          For those who are responsible for thousands of elderly dying because they can not afford heat. For those responsible for ten of thousands of babies and children dying because they are starving, All so they can line there pockets with tax payer money and publish bafflegab in learned journals. For those I have nothing but a deep hatred for the evil they KNOWINGLY do.

  3. Gamecock says:

    There is not a correct amount of ice for the Arctic. Some years there is more; some years there is less.

    Arctic ice “recovering,” instead of increasing, requires that lower ice be bad. It’s not. It’s better, in fact. How much Arctic ice there is is akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. The entire conversation is silly.

    • nielszoo says:

      Yes there is. The eco-loons have managed to get a copy of the Earth’s owner’s manual and in the back under “specifications” is where you find all these numbers they keep throwing out as “normal.” I think you can still get the manual* at Spencer Gifts right by the plasma balls, black lights and fluorescent paintings of marijuana leaves on black velvet.
      (*In selected stores only, not available on-line.)

    • Robert Austin says:

      No, the correct and ideal volume / extent of Arctic ice has been decreed by our betters to have occurred in 1979. Arctic ice extents prior to 1979 is deemed terra incognito and investigation of such is climate heresy and forbidden knowledge. Whilst Adam and Eve were in a state of grace in the Garden of Eden, the extent of Arctic ice was precisely the same as that in 1979, don’t you know?

    • gregole says:



      The Arctic is Dying!
      No it’s not. It’s just ice floating on a shallow sea. It cannot die. It’s just ice. It can float away and melt; or just melt, but it cannot die. As far as Arctic life, there is no evidence it is much threatened at all, what’s more faced with extinction. Polar bear count is up; and may I point out that as top predator, if they are up, and doing ok, then so is everything they eat.

      The Arctic is in a Death Spiral!
      No it’s not. See above.

      The Arctic is Recovering!
      No it’s not. It’s just ice. Maybe there is more or less of it in late summer and early autumn, but if indeed it is “recovering”, what may I ask is it recovering from? Look. Say you have a sugar bowl or a snack bin at home. On Friday after shopping, it is full. Toward Thursday it is getting emptied. Does one say, “The snack bin is dying – it’s in a Death-Spiral. And then on Friday afternoon claim it has “recovered”.

      <The Arctic Has a Fever
      No, it does not have a fever.

      People get fevers. People recover; or they die. All Arctic death/recovery talk is anthropomorphic baby talk.

      And I love hearing all of it for some weird reason. Personally, on an existential basis, to be quite honest, I do not care at all about Arctic ice extent. But all the human attention and hoopla is somehow very entertaining to me.

      • nielszoo says:

        If, at any time before Wednesday, the Snack Bin is low on (or out of) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or dark chocolate it is officially in a Death Spiral. If 1 x 10^6 km² = 0 in the Arctic Ice game then lack of candy in my kitchen can be a Death Spiral.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Low on dark chocolate? ARRRRGGGHhhhhhh it is a DEATH SPIRAL!!!! Call Al Gore immediately!

          Wait, Tipper got all the dark chocolate in the divorce.

    • Tom Bakert says:

      A characteristically perceptive comment, Gamecock. One small dicker – I would have said, “how many angels should be able to dance on the head of a pin.”

  4. rah says:

    Got a good kick reading the comments on the slate article and seeing there are still people who’s pearls of wisdom in their store house of knowledge include such gems as global sea ice extent is meaningless and that only Arctic sea ice extent and not volume matters.

    Disappointed to learn that Phil Plait, an astronomer I enjoy watching on certain astronomy, programs is a climate ignoramus.

    • tom0mason says:

      Will you be watching for Near-Earth Asteroid 2014 RC close encounter tonight?

      • rah says:

        Not tonight though it is a good night for observing here don’t have the scope out and to be frank, I’m tired after a day of yard work. Besides trying to track an asteroid moving along like this one that is so close with a 10″ Meade Starfinder on the Dobsonian mount is pretty darn tedious. A lot of work for a few good quick views. Could bring out the bino;s I guess but mine really aren’t that great for astronomy.

  5. Gail Combs says:

    The more I read idiots like this the more I want a mile high glacier sitting on Chicago.

    Hey Phil Plait, will you STILL claim it is warming when you look like this?
    (Phil is the guy on the right)

    • mjc says:

      Won’t work…they’d ‘do’ something like spread powdered graphite or thermite (and light it off) on it long before it got that thick and then deny it ever existed.

      • nielszoo says:

        Don’t put thermite on ice… very, very, very… very bad idea. Light thermite, ice flashes to steam, high pressures under burning thermite, molten iron and aluminum droplets flying through the air… not good. (I think the Mythbuster guys even did it on their show.)

        In Chicago today the gangs would beat that glacier into a snow cone if it crossed into their turf… and Eric Holder would be on the case and dealing with that white glacier going after those fine gentlemen of color in the South Side gangs. It’s all racist you know.

        • mjc says:

          Yes…but it would be such a ‘Team’ thing to do, now wouldn’t…you know something that even crazed rednecks know not to do, at their drunkest. I mean, come on, if their science makes so little sense AND has such little basis in reality, don’t you think their solutions would be any better?

  6. Eliza says:

    I’ve been wrong about nearly every ice extent future guess. Its all over the place..its all NORMAL…aka no change since last ice will not recover dramatically….it may do so over many years as it may well melt over many years.

  7. darrylb says:

    As I commented on the last thread- from 1940 to now. — 25 years of warming, out of 75.
    That should be proof 🙂

  8. James Strom says:

    “According to the University of Washington, Arctic sea ice volume is up 27% from last year, and 64% since 2012.”

    A mere three million km^3. And since ice free is defined as one million km^3, the difference of three million is three times zero; i.e., nothing. I’m surprised you missed that. You gotta do math like a climate scientist, Steve.

    • James Strom says:

      Well, this is embarrassing. An ice free Arctic is defined as ice one million square km in area, not cubic km in volume. But the beauty of climate science is that we can do the same calculation with the same result, so long as one million = zero. I wanted to make the correction, because climate science ought to be precise.

      • Tel says:

        Just make up a new definition of zero… I mean that’s where the “official” definition came from. Your imagination is as good as any.

  9. stpaulchuck says:

    did Baghdad Bob have a school for training guys like Plait?

  10. tom0mason says:

    There is an interesting piece at the SPARC research center for those who are interested. Basically the Arctic 30 hPa (low stratosphere/high troposphere), monthly mean temperatures at the North Pole in March 1956-2000, shows a warming till about 1980 and a 10°C decline from then till now. Above this in the stratosphere, at 10 hPa, monthly mean temperatures at the North Pole in February 1965-2000, shows continuous warming.

    Please be aware that the troposphere and stratosphere are considerably lower at the poles than at the equator, 10km lower sometimes more. Also the heights varies seasonally and are affected by solar events. See

    • tom0mason says:

      Also see for the lack of rigour used for the UN-IPCC modeled atmosphere.

      • gregole says:

        Thanks for the link!

        Dr. Ball is the real thing. I met him at ICCC-9 and picked up a copy of his book, “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science” His book is excellent!

        • tom0mason says:

          I agree, and recommend his book to all readers here, as he highlights the political mess climate studies are now in.

    • tom0mason says:

      Also see
      For Northern and Southern Hemispheres have leading modes of circulation variability with deep, barotropic, zonally symmetric structures. We refer to these modes as the Arctic and Antarctic Oscillations (AO/AAO), or more generically as annular modes.

    • tom0mason says:

      And of course the man of considerable sense E.M. Smith at

    • Gail Combs says:

      HMMMmmm, using ‘Official climate logic’ The troposphere is warmed by CO2 and the stratosphere is warmed by oxygen. Therefore Ozone is INCREASING while Carbon dioxide is DECREASING.

      Do I have that logic right?

      • tom0mason says:

        ‘Official climate logic’ – useful as a uniped at an ass kicking contest.
        Otherwise, yep it all look up-side-down in spring (no other seasons’ numbers available), and has been for a while.

      • nielszoo says:

        According to my official Climateer™ Secret Decoder Ring (and Peer Reviewed GCM) the stratosphere is in fact being heated by CO2. It appears that evil fluorocarbons like Freon® (and cleaner/degreasers that actually work) are heated by CO2’s “back radiation” at ground level in industrialized nations. Those large, heavy molecules surreptitiously carry that heat upwards 13,000m or more (without losing any of it) and on arrival, intensely heats the stratosphere and destroys ozone. This releases now warmed O2 making it appear that the oxygen is the culprit, but we know better.

        … or not. I lost the manual for the ring so I’m not entirely sure how it’s supposed to work. I can’t get a new one because the Climateer Club® found out I was registered as a Republican and they won’t return my emails.

  11. gregole says:

    Phil has fallen for the latest fashion in Pathological Science, Mann-Made Global-Warming:

    Symptoms of Pathological Science:

    1. The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, and the magnitude of the effect is substantially independent of the intensity of the cause.

    2. The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability; or, many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results.

    3. Claims of great accuracy.

    4. Fantastic theories contrary to experience.

    5. Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment.

    6. Ratio of supporters to critics rises up to somewhere near 50% and then falls gradually to oblivion.

    • geran says:

      Symptoms of Pathological Science:

      1. The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, and the magnitude of the effect is substantially independent of the intensity of the cause.

      The “climate forcing” from CO2 Check

      2. The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability; or, many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results.

      Sea level rises Check

      3. Claims of great accuracy.

      Temperature anomalies claimed to be +/-0.1º Check

      4. Fantastic theories contrary to experience.

      Cold can make hot hotter Check

      5. Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment.

      Scientists don’t lie Check

      6. Ratio of supporters to critics rises up to somewhere near 50% and then falls gradually to oblivion.

      Well HOPEFULLY….

  12. geran says:

    Amazingly, he calls his site “Bad Astronomy”. Usually, the wacko Leftists name their droppings names like “Truth in Astronomy”, or “Great Thoughts about Astronomy”.

    He somehow gets it right….

  13. copernicus34 says:

    the Climate Astronomer strikes again
    dude is a moron and a blowhard

  14. omanuel says:


    I understand. But in my old age I have come to agree with those who believe “It diminishes me to hate anyone.”


    • Gail Combs says:

      Unfortunately in this world “turn the other cheek” means you get your head whacked off and millions of children are still left to endure a slow death by starvation.
      “First they came for the Communists
      And I did not speak out
      Because I was not a Communist
      Then they came for the Socialists
      And I did not speak out
      Because I was not a Socialist
      Then they came for the trade unionists
      And I did not speak out
      Because I was not a trade unionist
      Then they came for the Jews
      And I did not speak out
      Because I was not a Jew
      Then they came for me
      And there was no one left
      To speak out for me.”
      Pastor Martin Niemoller

      169,202,000 Murdered in the twentieth century.

      Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5′, then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century….

      After eight-years and almost daily reading and recording of men, women, and children by the tens of millions being tortured or beaten to death, hung, shot, and buried alive, burned or starved to death, stabbed or chopped into pieces, and murdered in all the other ways creative and imaginative human beings can devise, I have never been so happy to conclude a project. I have not found it easy to read time and time again about the horrors innocent people have been forced to suffer. What has kept me at this was the belief, as preliminary research seemed to suggest, that there was a positive solution to all this killing and a clear course of political action and policy to end it. And the results verify this. The problem is Power. The solution is democracy. The course of action is to foster freedom.

      • tom0mason says:

        Matthew 5:38-42
        38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not respond in kind to an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right check, turn to him the other also. 40 If someone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

        This is a complicated text for modern readers to understand, as it relies on an understanding of the older laws, texts, rules, and ways of the day.
        IMHO what Mathew is retelling in words of Jesus is that the older Jewish Tora codes, or Old Testament ways were the rules of retaliation for inflicted harm, and this should change. However, some specific history should be noted as this can assist in interpretation. This rule of retaliation is often denoted lex talionis (, the old law of retribution dating back to the anchient laws and Code of Hammurabi.(
        Remember though, that Jesus’ intent is to radicalize the old principles, to reinterpret, replace, or even break the stale and staid old Jewish rules for life.
        Jesus’ interpretation of ‘an eye for an eye’ old law was these are codes of revenge, of vengeful retribution, or even an escalation of violence; immediate and not necessarily with much thought. In essence – do not resort to evil ways to resist or respond to evil intent or action.
        Jesus entreats us to turn the ‘other cheek’ is passive aggressive, a non violent response. Offering the other cheek implies that the aggressor can hit again if he likes, but he will not do so as a superior. By turning the cheek you offer to the aggressor either hit with the ‘unclean’ left hand, or slap open handed as a child, or women. This insult implies that the aggressor was an inferior, perhaps a slave, a child, or in that time a woman. Either act demeans and shames the aggressor.

        Therefore the message Jesus gives is do not mechanically react. Do not react to evil by following old ways because they are there, and do not return evil with evil, but respond (with thought), and not necessarily with aggression but with justice and understanding. If violence is required it must still be just and proportionate.

        Also see

        • Gail Combs says:

          Thank you for that. I would certainly go along with your interpretation.

          You do not fight name calling with name calling but facts. You do not react to violence with violence but with thought.

          I think a recent example is the two methods of reaction to the violence of police.

          In Ferguson MO the reaction was further violence and riots. A rather useless reaction. In the case of the aggression of the police against Mayor Cheye Calvo, the Mayor’s reaction was very thoughtful and useful. link

          My objection to what Oliver said was we can not pretend their actions did not happen. Bullies do not care about Christian ethics and that has to be kept in mind.

          Mayor Cheye Calvo didn’t just let the incident go, instead he worked to get a simple transparency law passed. “It required every police agency in Maryland with a SWAT team to issue a quarterly report—later amended to twice yearly—on how many times the team was deployed, for what purpose, and whether any shots were fired during the raid.” Instead of embracing this bill as an opportunity to restore the public trust, state law enforcement groups opposed it. Lawmakers passed the bill over the objections of law enforcement and when the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention released the first batch of statistics, the reason Law enforcement bullies did not want that law passed was revealed:

          By the following spring, the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention released the first batch of statistics. They were predictably unsettling. For the last half of 2009, SWAT teams were deployed 804 times in the state of Maryland, or about 4.5 times a day. In Prince George’s County alone, which has about 850,000 residents, a SWAT team was deployed about once a day. According to an analysis by the Baltimore Sun, 94 percent of the state’s SWAT deployments were to serve search or arrest warrants, leaving just 6 percent that were raids involving barricades, bank robberies, hostage takings, and other emergency situations. Half of Prince George’s County’s SWAT deployments were for what were called “misdemeanors and nonserious felonies.” More than one hundred times over a six-month period, Prince George’s County sent police barreling into private homes for nonserious, nonviolent crimes. Calvo pointed out that the first set of figures confirm what he and others concerned about these tactics have suspected: SWAT teams are being deployed too often as the default way to serve search warrants, not as a last resort.

          An eye for an eye? No instead a very careful and well thought out response to a real problem — police breaking into houses and committing acts of violence when none was needed or in some cases unlawful (shooting dogs and threatening children when the warrant was for another house.)

          I wonder if Mayor Cheye Calvo wants to run for president?

        • tom0mason says:

          I believe we are in agreement here.
          It is that all too often the ‘turn the other cheek’ response is mistaken for weakness, which it is not. It is the strong reply but not from the expected quarter.

        • All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

          Not a law of nature, but of God.

          Here’s a little challenge for you, should you choose to accept it. The above-mentioned law can be generalized to:

          All they who refuse to _________ shall perish in (i.e. as a result of) their state of refusal to ________.

          There may be more than one correct solution. But in all correct solutions, both blanks are filled with exactly the same word(s). (There are also, of course, incorrect solutions with the two blanks being filled identically.)


        • tom0mason says:

          An interesting conundrum for which my initial word is ‘forgive’, but allow me time to ponder some more.

        • Forgive is also, in my view, the best answer. However, others may think first of different ones that are also correct. Thanks for your response. RTF

        • tom0mason says:

          Thank-you. I much appreciate it.

        • You’re welcome …. My point, in case you missed it, was that I disagree with your interpretation of “turn the other cheek” because it is at odds with the overall plan as revealed to us in The New Testament. “Turn the other cheek” is really synonymous with “put up again your sword into his place”. The greatest divide within Christianity is between those who understand and accept this and those who don’t. The meaning of “turn the other cheek” is that we have two choices when faced with someone who wants to harm us: run and try to hide (which is sometimes possible for a time), or face him and let him do everything to us that he wants to. And we are advised that we cannot hide forever, because it’s not the Lord’s will for us to forever evade the enemy’s efforts to harm us. Some will be protected from these efforts by miracles, most will not. But regardless of the outcome, the body of Christ must, sooner or later, hold their ground and not flee and not hide, and take what’s coming to them, whatever it may be. We may not like it, but if it is the Lord’s will then it is justice.
          Acceptance of the Lord’s sacrifice gets us everlasting life, but it is not repentance. To repent, we still have to bear our cross in this life. And we don’t get to decide for ourselves what that cross will be. For some it will be worse than others. But in the case of violent attack by another human being, to stop it from happening by invoking some self-styled notion of exacting “justice” by harming the other person (a response not anywhere described in The New Testament!) is to disobey the Lord who delivered us from the justice that had lain in store for us before we believed and were baptized up to everlasting life.

        • tom0mason says:

          After many decades of not studying the Bible I find now I turn to it for guidance.
          You have enlighten me more.
          Again many thanks.

        • Gail Combs says:

          “Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” ~ John Stuart Mill 1867

          Compressed by Rev. Charles F. Aked to
          “For evil men to accomplish their purpose, it is only necessary that good men do nothing,” ( 1916)

  15. omanuel says:

    Gail, Phil’s astronomy is no better than his climatology. His opinions are determined by majority opinions. E.g.,

    The top of the Sun’s atmosphere is

    91% Hydrogen, the lightest element
    9 % Helium, the next lightest one

    Light isotopes of each element are enriched at the top of the Sun’s atmosphere and in the solar wind. E.g., lightweight xenon isotopes are enriched by 3.5% per mass unit at the top of the Sun’s atmosphere:

    When elemental abundances in the photosphere are corrected for mass-fractionation OBSERVED across the isotopes then the un-fractionated (real) elemental composition of the Sun is found to consist mostly of Fe, O, Si, Ni, S, Mg and Ca – just like rocky meteorites and planets.

    Phil simply ignores these observations in order to endorse the standard solar model.

    • omanuel says:

      Instead of being angry at Phil for blindly endorsing consensus models of stars and climate, can I recognize that his insecurity and fear of being wrong prevent him from forming his on ideas based on measurements and observations?

      • omanuel says:

        prevent him from forming his own ideas based on measurements . . .

      • Gail Combs says:


        I would go along with that ten years ago. However since then Phil and his buddies are now using name calling – ‘flat earther’, ‘denier’…. to harass people instead of debating. They are producing false and very damaging psychological studies labeling skeptics as crazy (Lewandowsky.) They are banning open debate in the news media, while openly publishing lies and falshoods. They are denying free speech on college campuses and ruining the lives and livelihoods of not only people like Dr Gray but of ordinary working stiffs. (See John Kehr’s comment below.)

        There is something terribly wrong in this country when John Kehr has to write something like that. Phil is an enabler and no better than someone leading a lynch mob. Heck such a mob has already shown up in front of an oil execs house in Texas egged on by such as Phil and Bill McKibben.

        Sadly anonymity can be important. There was one reader who wasn’t that ended up in trouble for commenting on a skeptic site when trying to get a job. They found his comment on Google and said they didn’t hire deniers.

        He kindly asked me to scrub his name which I of course did. That is really a sad state of affairs. So I don’t begrudge anonymity here……

        • omanuel says:

          Gail, name-callers are ill-prepared to debate issues rationally. Most are just cowards.

          Fear was at the root of my own defects of character:

          Deep-seated insecurities
          Hidden by arrogance
          Self-righteous anger
          Lack of empathy
          Judging others

          Those helped me to see similar defects in others.

          I have yet to meet a bully, who is not also a coward. Today, I am not afraid of the bullying crowds.

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