Update: Review of Plimer’s book “Heaven and Earth” is here:
I don’t refute this nonsense by constructing a new argument each time which, point-by-point, shows why their claims are not supported by the evidence. This is pointless, since the majority of non-greenhouse theorists (‘sceptics’) blithely ignore any such counterpoints and simply repeat the same arguments elsewhere. Instead I rebutt by hyperlinking to some of the wealth of explanatory material out there on the world wide web. For reasons of general accessibility, the articles l link to are predominantly pitched for a lay audience – but they are consistent in linking to the peer-reviewed primary scientific literature (sometimes I’ll link straight to the journal papers). I focus primarily on the science content of the piece, except where non-science arguments are clearly false and demand correction.
Update: For a direct response to two of Ian’s points, raised in a recent debate I had with him, see this post: Two denialist talking points quashed.
After being relentlessly urged by various colleagues to do a Spot the Denial profile piece on Prof Ian Plimer, I have relented. Ian is, like me, a member of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Adelaide (he is also a joint member of the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering). He’s a nice bloke, friendly and genial, and we get on well. But of course we fundamentally disagree with respect to our interpretation of the evidence for the enhanced greenhouse effect being the primary determinant of recent global warming.
The piece I have used is rather familiar to me. It was published in the Independent Weekly in March 2008, and a press clipping of it that was stuck on a noticeboard has beckoned to me to retort each and every day I pass it whilst walking down the corridors of the Mawson Laboratories to my office. It was actually a story written by a journalist, Bill Nichols (with no axe to grind one way or another), but it is about Ian’s viewpoint on climate science and includes many quotes from him. They are the ones I’ll hyperlink here, along with a few other points of background.
This is also timely because Ian and I will be having a back-and-forth debate (22 min each side, 2 turns each) on day two of the upcoming Skeptics National Convention 2008 on 12 October 2008, to be held at the Norwood Concert Hall, Adelaide. We’ll then be fielding audience questions for 45 min. It should be interesting!
But for now, here’s my hyperlinked dissection of that story…
(Journalist: Bill Nichols)
Sinful, guilty humans are not responsible for global warming.
This was the highly unpopular message delivered by the outspoken Professor of Geology at Adelaide University, Professor Ian Plimer, addressing the Paydirt Uranium Conference at the Hilton this week.
Even though he was talking to a crowd of investors, managers and fans of uranium mining companies, the subject matter seemed particularly awkward.
There was hushed silence as if he were blaspheming – which of course he was – against our new religion of global warming.
“Ask any plant how it feels about carbon dioxide,” Prof Plimer said. “As you’re hugging a tree think about how it wouldn’t even be there if not for plenty of carbon dioxide in the environment so they can get access to the carbon.”
Prof Plimer, author of six books, a teaching geologist at Adelaide University as well as pragmatic director of a Broken Hill mining company, reckons Australians are being totally misled by the new global warming religion.
He believes that pseudoscientific pedlars of bad news don’t take any notice of the fact that the amount of solar energy hitting earth is not a constant. This is because the sun is not the gravitational centre of the solar system and goes through a lot of gravitational wobble.
The result is an elliptical path which produces variable doses of cosmic radiation.
Prof Plimer said man is not the main supplier of carbon dioxide and most of it arises from volcanoes (86 per cent of which were beneath the sea), earthquakes, intrusions of plutonic rocks (Kamchatka), the pulling apart of the ocean floor, hot flushes from the earth’s core, ocean degassing and comets.
Prof Plimer also said that measurement techniques were flawed. If you measure the temperature from a certain place, such as Los Angeles, the development of the past 200 years has made the city much warmer because of all the buildings and roads absorbing solar energy – and naturally the temperature trend is upwards. On the other hand Plimer cited evidence that rural centres used to record long-term temperatures, mostly tended downwards.
“Humans have adapted to life on earth ranging from ice sheets to mountains to tropics and have survived far warmer and far colder climates than currently being experienced or forecast by the climate doomists,” Prof Plimer said.
“Few people realise that water vapour in the atmosphere provides 96 per cent of the greenhouse effect, raising temperature from minus 18 degrees to 15 degrees Celsius.
“The Greens opt to pressure democratically elected governments to reject a large body of science in favour of authoritarianism and promote policies which create unemployment and economic contraction.”
There is a more recent piece by Prof Plimer, published on 26 August in the Independent Weekly, which I will also cover in due course. This will require a different approach to the Spot the recycled denial… series. Stay tuned.
EDIT: For a detailed refutation of Prof Plimer’s main points, see Le Rayon Vert (hat tip to Stu).