Updated top 10 posts on BNC and some site stats

This is an update to alert readers that I’ve updated and expanded the ‘Top 10’ list of posts on BNC. Below are the listings, broken down by category.

But before that, here are some general site statistics that regular readers might find interesting:

‘Birthday‘:  7 August 2008 (with Welcome to a Brave New Climate)

Total number of posts: 265 (in 15 categories)

Total number of comments: 17,200 (with another 92,200 spam messages being filtered out!), or 65 average per post (this has obviously increased with time, as the community has been built up)

Total hits: 655,500, with the busiest day receiving 2,509 (Wed 2 Dec 2009) — these now seems stable, at about 1,200 per day, with fluctuations in the range of 700 – 900 on weekends and 1,400 – 1,600 on good days, and over 2,000 on exceptional days. I guess the blog has reached its carrying capacity (see chart below), with some regulars, many wayfarers, and other medium-term visitors who stay a while and then move on. I wonder if other blogs have the same experience?

Most commented and visited post: Ian Plimer – Heaven and Earth

Blog subscribers (WordPress email — see top of left side bar): 144

Twitter feed: 555 followers, TFF ratio = 14.6

Most regular referring website: Climate Debate Daily (13,580 referrals); Most regularly referred website:  Deltoid (1,470 onward clicks)

Most popular Google search terms:  bravenewclimate,  Ian Plimer, integral fast reactor, barry brook, climate change skeptics, recycled

Most regular commenters: Barry Brook (1,465), Peter Lang (1,147), DV82XL (783), Finrod (650), John Newlands (645), eclipsenow (579), John Morgan (447), Geoff Russell (361), David Benson (323), Neil Howes (290), Ewen Laver (269), G.R.L. Cowan (268), TerjeP (229), Douglas Wise (228), Greg Meyerson (225), Fran Barlow (223), Charles Barton (196).

This list was done via individual searches (of registering email addresses — which I keep private, of course), so if you think you’ve been overlooked, let me know and I’ll tell you your magic number!

Okay, on to the top 10s (hits and # comments, in brackets):

Top 10 climate sceptics posts

1. Ian Plimer – Heaven and Earth (45,780; 1,028)

2. Spot the recycled denial III – Prof Ian Plimer (7,509; 40)

3. Sceptics (6,709; 15)

4. Dr David Evans: born-again ‘alarmist’? (6,324; 105)

5. Climate Denial Crock (5,072; 157)

6. What Bob Carter and Andrew Bolt fail to grasp (5,006; 185)

7. Dr Jennifer Marohasy ignores the climate science (2,813; 60)

8. Two denialist talking points quashed (2,732; 19)

9. Spot the recycled denial II – 60 Minutes ‘Crunch Time’ (2,433; 65)

10. The great climate debate 2009 – Brook vs Plimer (2,292; 49)

Top 10 climate information posts

1. Do most scientists really believe in global warming? (4828; 35)

2. Is there a link between Adelaide’s heatwave and global warming? (4,316; 95)

3. What if the sun got stuck? (3,964; 239)

4. Top 10 ways to reduce your CO2 emissions footprint (3,952; 16)

5. El Niño and sunspots return, sea ice doesn’t (3,817; 70)

6. How hot should it have really been over the last 30 years? (2,934; 50)

7. More ice, flat temperatures – what does it all mean? (2,619; 79)

8. Heatwave update and open letter to the PM (2,545; 85)

9. Will global warming cause a mass extinction event? (2,515; 48)

10. Two years, three record heat waves in southeastern Australia (1,932; 76)

Top 10 nuclear power posts

1. Sustainable Nuclear (7,575; 88)

2. Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) nuclear power Q&A (4849; 116)

3. Prescription for the Planet – Part II – newclear energy and boron-powered vehicles (3,324; 28)

4. Radiation – facts, fallacies and phobias (3,075; 248)

5. The Integral Fast Reactor – Summary for policy makers (2,947; 100)

6. Hypocrisies of the antis (2,849; 153)

7. Response to an Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) critique (2,742; 133)

8. Recent nuclear power cost estimates – separating fact from myth (2,735; 104)

9. Nuclear century outlook – crystal ball gazing by the WNA (2,708; 458)

10. A LFTR deployment plan for Australia (2,225; 62)

Top 10 renewable energy posts

1. Solar power realities – supply-demand, storage, and costs (6,538; 501)

2. Critique of ‘A path to sustainable energy by 2030’ (4,665; 189)

3. Emission cuts realities for electricity (4,563; 329)

4. Wind and carbon emissions – Peter Lang responds (3,336; 233)

5. Renewable Limits (3,043; 32)

6. Does wind power reduce carbon emissions? (3,018; 245)

7. Solar realities and transmission costs – addendum (2,975; 319)

8. TCASE 4: Energy system build rates and material inputs (2,622; 163)

9. Climbing mount improbable (2,347; 152)

10. Pumped-hydro energy storage – cost estimates for a feasible system (2,140; 119)

Top 10 other pages

1. About (8,980; 103)

2. Off to China (7,745; 10)

3. Cartoon guide to global warming denial II (6,436; 14)

4. Carbon tax or cap-and-trade? The debate we never had (3,813; 66)

5. Top 10 (3,498; 2)

6. Open Thread 3 (3,174; 526)

7. Open Thread 4 (2,933; 549)

8. Do climate sceptics and anti-nukes matter? or: How I learned to stop worrying and love energy economics (2,777; 456)

9. Remote solar PV vs small nuclear reactor – electricity cost comparison (2,530; 137)

10. Action Plans (2,318; 5)

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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

41 replies on “Updated top 10 posts on BNC and some site stats”

Barry,thanks for all the work which you put into your valuable and informative site (and elsewhere).

Please don’t get discouraged by apparent carrying capacity.Somnolent sheep are notoriously difficult to move.The people working for a sensible population regime for Australia have the same problem.

Those of us who are concious have a long hard road ahead.May we all have the wisdom and commitment to keep walking and take the right direction,even if it is the road less travelled.


I don’t have a good sense of what these numbers mean. Can you put them in the context of some other websites?

Also, is it possible to determine the geographic breakdown of the readership, especially Australia vs rest of world?


Hi John,
that would be interesting! There are probably wordpress map widgets that can list the relative hits from various countries, as I know there are such widgets for blogger.


You can access some geographic stats of BNC readers here: (there is also a link “View my stats” near to top of the right side bar)

Most visitors are from Australia, US, Canada, UK, NZ, and other EU countries.

JM – I haven’t seen the numbers breakdown published on many other sites, so it’s hard to judge. BNC does seem to have a very, very high comments to view count ratio relative some other blogs. But it would be great if other blog owners could give feedback on their stats, especially regarding long-term growth vs equilibrium.


Not many blogs significantly change my view of things (many fine tune my view of things). Before this blog I was mildly anti nuclear. Having been walked through the facts I’m now pro-nuclear. Well done.


Happy Birthday BNC! My how you have grown! I believe the rest of us have “grown” with you in our understanding of CC and our belief that there is a viable solution. Thankyou very much Barry! Onwards and upwards!


For a brilliant article outlining why we should be very sceptical of AGW mitigation measures and including a broad range of sensitivity analysis I hope you will all agree that the following is well worth a read.

In sort it finds there is no credible way for an ETS to pass a cost benefit analysis. Not even with wildly favourable assumptions on both the cost and benefit side of the equation. The author is an economist and will at the next election be the Liberal party candidate in Kevin Rudds seat. He a fair debate he would eat the PM for breakfast on this topic. One hopes the print media pays attention.



While the ETS is fair game, “brilliant” is not an adjective I’d apply to that piece. John Humphreys firmly places himself in the AGW denier camp by the company he keeps (4th International Conference on Climate Change) and the ludicrous proposals at the end of the article.

“civil society actions” (greenies should buy more PV panels and abandon the political stuff) is just silly.

And a private market for climate change insurance could more aptly be described as a market mechanism for redistributing harm from those who can most afford it to those who can least. Free market fanaticism gone mad.

Anybody who can with a straight face suggest such nonsense, clearly is playing a political game of delaying action to mitigate climate change.


Quokka – the article is about the ETS. You have singled out two criticisms. One is the company John keeps which isn’t a criticism of the article but a criticism of the author. In short a case of playing the man not the ball. A second criticism is the alternatives he suggests we explore in his concluding remarks. I’m not sure what you have against civil society. The BNC blog is an example of civil society which is in my book doing a fine job. However I’ll happily qualify my description of brilliant to say that the cost benefit analysis of the ETS which comprises 95% of Johns article is brilliant whilst the other 5% is merely speculative but still worthy of reflection.


In general, I would suggest that cost benefit analysis of measures to reduce CO2 emissions now against projected reductions of GDP forty or ninety years into the future due to climate change are a very dubious tool at best. Peer reviewed or not, the uncertainties are enormous. Maybe it’s my general low opinion of a lot of economics, but I’d much rather listen to what the physical sciences have to say about the consequences of climate change.

Evaluating an ETS against highly uncertain projections of the economic consequences of business as usual is just more “do nothing” stuff with dubious factual basis. What is important is the cost effectiveness of an ETS as compared with other approaches for reducing CO2 emissions in the here and now.

The article has nothing useful to say about the latter and two of the three suggested measures are complete nonsense. More denialist stuff.


That paper of John Humphrey’s seems like a clear case of cherry-picking. References to papers suggesting there may be an overall “small benefit” from climate change is cause for suspicion.

I’m skeptical as to how anyone can put even remotely accurate cost estimates on loss of ecosystem services due to climate change, given we don’t know what we stand to lose, nor the extent of what we could lose. The food crises and natural disasters that are already occurring because of climate change and other environmental degradation aren’t being costed properly, so I’m not sure how this crystal ball gazing cost analysis is in any way telling.

I agree with quokka, I’d rather listen to the assessments of the physical sciences and biological sciences on the potential consequences of climate change.


He did cherry pick. On the cost side he only looked at papers that were high profile (eg IPCC report) or that were peer reviewed.

You guys seem to be pushing the notion that large scale changes to public policy should be rolled out across the globe on the basis of your prefered version of a scary story rather as a result of a considered look at the costs and benefits. You guys are doing worse than rejecting this piece of analysis you are rejecting the notion that we should even consider comparing costs and benefits.



There is a lot of interesting presentations from the 4 Degrees and Beyond conference (Sep 2009, Oxford). You should have a look at some of them:

A good starter is Dr Richard Betts (Met Office Hadley Centre) on regional patterns and timing. He also looks at plausible worst case scenarios for timing which he concludes is 4C by 2070 based on IPCC A1F1 (high end) emissions trajectory – which currently is a fair match for business as usual.

But it is the regional patterns that are most alarming. Just how lucky do you feel?


Quokka – you might have well has told me to go rea the Internet and come back when I am done. Could you be specific as to which paper I should read from the long list at your link which will tell me the summarised cost of doing nothing, either for Australia or for the World, either in dollars or in proportion to the cost of a given mitagation strategy.

Johns paper uses conservative numbers to indicate that mitigation costs using an ETS are many multiples of the do nothing and suffer cost. As such we should do nothing and suffer. If somebody else has done such a cost benefit analysis for either an ETS or some alternate mitigation strategy that you think is superior then point us to it explicitly.


p.s. You asked how luck I feel. The answer is pretty luck. However I don’t think public policy should be based on feelings of luck, whether good luck or bad luck.



I never said we should not do cost-benefit analyses, I said cost-benefit analyses on climate change vs abatement cannot be viewed as reliable. Certainly not for policy. While I admit (from my brief skim of the abstracts and conclusions of some of the papers referenced in the link by John Humphries) that there is not a huge difference in results and opinions of abatement costs, the disareements as to how seriously climate change will affect the world’s biota (and therefore us) are enormous.

And a quick search on sciencedirect and google scholar comes up with a great deal more than 14 results for cost benefit analyses on climate change – most of them acknowledging the too large uncertanties of such modeling.


I said cost-benefit analyses on climate change vs abatement cannot be viewed as reliable. Certainly not for policy.

I agree that reliability is a factor. I was impressed with Johns article because it entailed considerable stress testing on assumptions. However even if the reliability is low I can’t see how you can reasonably discard cost benefit analysis in formulating a policy. If the best stress tested assumptions all indicate that an ETS will cost us more than it benefits us then on what reasonable basis could you support an ETS?

I’m open to the possibility that John has the wrong numbers. However I’m extremely dubious towards the notion that we should throw the notion of comparing numbers away and just implement an ETS because it is part of some grand popular narrative about how the world will be saved. To do so would be positively wooly thinking. The merits of an ETS have been too much based on faith over reason.



If the best stress tested assumptions all indicate that an ETS will cost us more than it benefits us then on what reasonable basis could you support an ETS?

I’m open to the possibility that John has the wrong numbers. However I’m extremely dubious towards the notion that we should throw the notion of comparing numbers away and just implement an ETS because it is part of some grand popular narrative about how the world will be saved. To do so would be positively woolly thinking. The merits of an ETS have been too much based on faith over reason.

I agree.

This is why we need to reduce the cost of nuclear to allow it to compete.

We wouldn’t be in the current situation if we had never ramped up the cost of nuclear due to 40+ years of irrational action.

But we still have many people, even people knowledgeable and enthusiastic advocates of nuclear still wanting to keep the imposts in place.

I started to think about DV*2XL’s point that we must build the plants that are currently available and approved. I agree. But we must also remove all the impediments, NOW, and we must also change the regulatory infrastructure that will continue to required ridiculous levels of over design into the future if we don’t make them change. I say the main aim of Gen IV should be much lower cost, not greater safety. We have excess safety already.

How could we bring current technology Gen III to Australia at a cost that would compete with coal:

1. Require new power stations have emissions limits. Also phase in reducing emissions for existing power stations over a reasonable time, and offer reasonable compensation to shut down.

2. Remove all market distortions that are unfair to any type of generator

3. To offset the high costs society has imposed through its 40 years of irrational policies, society will have to carry some of the costs until we have cheap nuclear. We will need to subsidise the first few nuclear plants until we are through the FOAK stage in Australia.

4. If we subsidised nuclear to the same proportion, per MWh, that we subsidise wind power, nuclear would be much cheaper than coal. If we subsidised nuclear to the same proportion we subsidise solar power (PV or CST), nuclear would be around 10% the cost. (I haven’t calculated the figures, this is just rough).

So, if we are prepared to subsidise wind power by 100% to 150%, and solar by about 2000%, we should be very pleased to subsidise nuclear sufficiently to get the technology established and cost competitive with coal in Australia.


Thing is, sitting on all that uranium, you guys have all sorts of leverage with those countries like India, Korea, Japan and even the States, many of whom would very likely give you a great price on a reactor or two in return for a guaranteed supply of fuel. You basically would be negotiating with the upper hand here, and there might not be the need for huge subsidies if you play your cards right.


“I’m extremely dubious towards the notion that we should throw the notion of comparing numbers away and just implement an ETS because it is part of some grand popular narrative about how the world will be saved”

I agree to a certain extent with this. I’m still not completely sold on carbon pricing, or how it should be implemented. There are 2 things I think are important to consider with an ETS;

Firstly, the quicker we replace fossil fuels with nuclear, the less an ETS costs us.

Secondly, if an ETS extends to agriculture and forestry (as it should), the benefits of better agricultural practices and less deforestation have benefits that go far, far beyond just carbon emissions reductions.


If we are to have a carbon price in Australia it ought to be in the form of a tax where the revenue is used to elliminate other taxes. And in my view it ought to be limited to energy (eg gas and electricity) and transportation. Agriculture and forestry should in my view be managed independently and probably left alone where it occures on private property.

Peter – the most important step we could take towards nuclear power is to remove prohibition. Once that is gone the possibility of an industry will create an interest group that can argue for the extra reforms necessary. I don’t support subsidies for nuclear or any other energy source as a general rule however so long as we retain MRET I think nuclear should qualify. In terms of banning emissions I think that putting a tax on emissions is far more sane. Having said that there is merit in giving legacy power plants a tax free emission threshold based on their historical rating.


p.s. Any hint that the revenue from a carbon tax would be used for anything other than the reduction of other taxes and I would be a vocal opponent. We already sacrifice too much societal welfare on the tax alter.


I wonder if fossil carbon prices could go through the roof without an ETS just in the next five years. The reasons are China peak coal and world peak oil. Thermal coal demand from China could see prices up to say $150/t in 2015 compared to about $50/t in 2007. Local generators will have to renew contracts that compete with export prices perhaps triple what they were previously.

On future gas prices think of diesel costing say $1.40 a litre or 40 MJ. That’s $35 a gigajoule or million BTUs. When diesel is in short supply truck fleet operators should happily convert to compressed natural gas. That is truckies are prepared to pay $35 per GJ but gas fired electricity generators don’t want to pay more than $6 or so per GJ. Gas prices will have to go up.

Thus fossil fuel could get too expensive for mere electricity generation in Australia since other customers may be prepared to pay more. This theory may be flawed since crude oil at $72 a barrel is just half the $147 it was in 2008. Since then there has been Deepwater and general awareness of peak oil. Nonetheless I submit that sudden fossil fuel price rises could catch us unprepared.



I don’t support subsidies for nuclear or any other energy source as a general rule however so long as we retain MRET I think nuclear should qualify.

In principle I don support subsidies or other distorting mechanisms either. However, we are not startting with a level playing field. We have a decidedly unlevel playing field. Someone has to pay to correct the tilt.

Society caused the tilt by requiring the legislators to impose irrational constraints on nuclear and to tilt the playing field in favour of other energy sources. Socxiety caused the tilt so society needs to pay to level it up. Simply removing the regulatory impediments is not enough.

We should remove the MRET AND subsidise nuclear until we have removed the tilt. That will take a while.

I do not agree with tax or ETS (until it is international) for the reasons I’ve stated previously. We are so caught up in this idea that tax or ETS willl solve the problems (it wont) that we unable to focus on what really needs to be done.


By the way, if it will be quicker and cheaper to get statred by public ownership, then I am all for that. I doub’t that is a viable option, however. NSW can’t even invest to keep its current publically owned power stations running. And no state is going to hand over control of electricity to the Federal Government.


Peter – I don’t believe in punishing society (making it pay) for past mistakes that were in reality the mistakes of only a subset of society. To do so is in my view merely another mistake. We ought to open up the field for nuclear but we should be seeking to level the field not tilt it in some new direction.



The problem is there is a cost to undo the damages. What we want is the least cost way to get back there. Tax and ETS are not the least cost way. They raise the bar on costs for electricity and the bar remains higher. Nuclear and renewable compete to beat the higher bar not the lower bar. We need to facilitate to get over the problem of the high cost for nuclear. We’ve been doing that to try to help renewables, and we do it all the time for other things that society wants or thinks it wants. A current example is $43 billion for the National Broadband Network. So we do it all the time. If society wants clean electricity at a low cost, rather than a higher cost, we have a hurdle to get over. I believe, as do many here, that nuclear will be the least cost and best way once we get there.

It is inconsistent for society to say we will not fund nuclear to get over this hurdle, but we’ll fund everything else.

The is a choice between what is theoretically correct, but unattainable n a short time, or pragmatically best given the 40+ years of distortions built into nuclear energy and in implementing it in a new country like Australia.


If anybody wants to suggest some alternative assumptions, I can put them into the model and tell you the results.

If you have “found” some extra peer-reviewed studies of the full consequences of climate change, please let me (and the rest of the academic world) know. I will happily include those studies in the range of estimates.

Otherwise, you should note that my analysis used a “cost of AGW” more than 10 times higher than the average peer-reviewed estimate. If you find that an under-estimate, then that suggests to me that you’re not interested in honest debate. I then used the lowest cost estimate for an ETS. And then I used an absurdly low discount rate. What more do you want?

If an ETS only just failed a BCA then perhaps you could still try to argue in its favour on the basis that government generally does better than expected (cough cough). But it doesn’t just fail. On extremely optimistic assumptions it massively fails (BCA = 0.07). To insist that we should introduce a policy with costs at least 14 times higher than benefits seems to indicate that we have given up on the crazy concept of “good public policy”.

I know people have an instinct to just “do something” but surely all honest and thoughtful people have to admit that the government should only act if there is a reasonable chance that they will do more good than harm. Otherwise we are saying “other people should be made worse off because I just feel like it”. Harsh.

As for criticising me for the company I keep… that will lead you to very confused conclusions. I hang out with socialists, hippies, monarchists, anarchists, libertarians, conservatives, populists, athiests, muslims, christians, jews, buddhists, the mega-rich and the homeless. I hope you don’t hate all of those groups.


Peter – if the federal government wants to permit nuclear power but the states are being difficult then the logical place to site a reactor is in the ACT. It is reasonably close to major markets, it would demonstrate that the politicians are confident regarding safety and the states can’t prevent it. They can’t even place an excise on imported nuclear electricity because that would be unconstitutional.

In terms of nuclear subsidies to make up for past policy mistakes this doesn’t lower the price of nuclear. It simply socialised the costs. The cost of past policy mistakes can’t be wished away, they can only be shifted from one group to another. You want the costs socialised because you blame society for the past policy mistakes but I don’t think this approach makes much sense. How do we pay for the past cost of the policy mistake of high tax rates? How do we pay for the past cost of the policy mistake of excessive subsidies for industry. The past mistakes did not steal wealth that can now be returned, they destroyed wealth which is now gone.



I am not sure if you are joking.

Talking about putting a NPP in ACT is just plain silly. You are playing NIMBY games like the Labor part did leading up to the last election (and most elections before). ACT doesn’t have a reliable water supply. As far as I am concerned, NPP’s need to be located on the coast for cooling water reasons, although I do accept the first one or few may be located at brown-fields sites. By the way, I have no problem at all with having a NPP nearby. So if this comment was intended to test my NIMBYism, then it’s wasted effort.

In terms of nuclear subsidies to make up for past policy mistakes this doesn’t lower the price of nuclear. It simply socialised the costs. The cost of past policy mistakes can’t be wished away, they can only be shifted from one group to another.

So how is your tax proposal different, other than you want to direct how the tax is spent?

If we don’t fund the FOAK costs and other costs needed to level the playing field, we will leave the distortions in place and burn coal for as long as it takes. The reason I say society needs to carry the bill to get over the mistakes it has made is because society is the one who wants to clean up the emissions.


I wasn’t testing you with the ACT suggestion. Like the Northern Territory it represents a place where the Feds can allow nuclear power without state laws getting in the way. In terms of access to water your point is fair enough.

In terms of taxes versus subsidies they are not that different in terms of transfering costs. So I’ll grant you that point. However there are good reasons in terms of economic efficiency and rent seeking behaviour to prefer a carbon tax.



I accept your general point:

However there are good reasons in terms of economic efficiency and rent seeking behaviour to prefer a carbon tax.

However, I wonder if this is the case for electricity which is
1. an essential service (like water),
2. is a major GHG contributor
3. Can be a substitute for fossil fuels use (in heat and transport)
4. Will substitute more rapidly the lower the cost
5. Is a significant contributor to bringing better health, work, personal fulfilment and independence, life expectancy to people. The cheaper it is the faster it will improve people’s lives
6. If we raise the cost of electricity in the developed countries it raises the cost of the technology and infrastructure for everyone, so it slows the rate that people will gain all these benefits
7. The lower the cost the faster the world will get off burning fossil fuels, and the sooner we do so the lower will be the peak emissions. This refers to world emissions, but Australia has a part to play here by not raising the cost of electricity.

This line of reasoining is clear to me but I am not sure if I am making it clear in the way I am writing it.


I don’t regard electricity as so special that it operates counter to general economic principles. Food is essential but making food cheap through subsidies has had some perverse and destructive effects. I think the general arguments that tariffs (taxes) are superior to subsidies holds true in the electricity market as readily as in any other market. In general users should pay the full cost of the things that they use.


John Humphreys

“If you have “found” some extra peer-reviewed studies of the full consequences of climate change, please let me know”

This was exactly my point. We have absolutely no idea what the full consequences of climate change will be. This is the third time I’ve said it. There are estimates as extreme as Venus Syndrome (as discussed in this blog) if GHG emissions are left unabated. And I dare say that carries a cost significantly higher than an ETS.

A model based purely on Australia’s GDP (which is a poor indicator of well-being as it is) completely ignores the negative externalities of Australia’s emissions which could occur anywhere (where?); the costs of food crises, water shortages, increasing natural disasters, the break-down of societies, resource wars etc. How do you estimate which of these costs will occur, and when? How do you properly put a value to these unknown costs? If left unabated, the impacts of climate change on the world’s biota (including us) could be absolutely dire, and you’re saying those costs are less than 4.5% of our GDP?

I’m not even an ETS proponent (I think it misses the point, and there are better climate mitigation measures), but this type of completely unquantifiable CBA irks me.


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