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climate change

Dec 13, 2011


Graham Readfearn writes: On November 24 in Melbourne, Professor Ian Plimer launched his new book which aims to spread doubt and uncertainty on the science of climate change.

Targeting school children and teachers (at least superficially), Plimer told the audience: “These children are being fed environmental propaganda and these children are too young to be fed ideology.”

Yet the book — How to Get Expelled From School: a guide to climate change for pupils, pundits and parents — is being supported by the Institute for Public Affairs, a think-tank that exists to do little else than spread its own free-market ideology.

Not only that, but Plimer, a geologist at the University of Adelaide, was actively fundraising for the IPA just last month when the federal government’s carbon price legislation was passed.

During his 20-minute launch speech, Plimer criticised climate scientists for being allegedly part of a “political movement”. Yet in virtually the next breath, he told the audience “one of the aims of this book is to maintain the rage, because we have an election coming.”

So much for spreading ideology and taking the politics out of science?

Since that late November gathering, Professor Plimer has managed to fit in a trip to the UK to speak at a debate in London hosted by a group called Repeal The Act. The aim of the debate was to encourage people to sign a petition calling for the repeal of the UK Parliament’s Climate Change Act.

The group boasts as its patron Professor Bob Carter, the IPA’s science policy advisor and another Australian climate science “skeptic”.

Plimer is also on the advisory committee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think-tank chaired by former UK chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson and which has much in common with the IPA.

Both groups aim to spread doubt and confusion on the science of climate change and the efficacy of renewable energy and both have recruited Carter and Plimer as speakers and advisors.

Neither of them are prepared to reveal any details about their funders. Plimer and Carter are also advisors to the Australian Climate Science Coalition and the Galileo Movement — two other climate science denial “think-tanks” which exist entirely to attack climate science and oppose regulation on greenhouse gases.

A recent “research” paper from the GWPF criticizing the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contained a foreword from former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, in which he described climate change campaigners as “zealots”.

Last night, Howard was the star attraction at the Sydney launch of Plimer’s book at the Sydney Mining Club. The IPA was again a supporter, as it will be for the launch in Brisbane later this month.

Howard said he was an “agnostic” on climate change and displayed an odd paranoia of the “left” when he said: “The progressive left has got their grip on the commanding heights of education instruction in this country.”

When Howard uses the term “agnostic” what he’s actually saying is that he isn’t able to accept the multiple lines of evidence contained in the decades worth of climate science published in journals across the world and backed by every major science academy on the planet that excessive burning of fossil fuels will very likely be bad.

Despite Howard’s enthusiasm for the new book and its author, Plimer has never actually had any research published on climate change in a peer-reviewed journal.

When he published his last book — Heaven and Earth — it was roundly and forcefully dismissed by actual climate scientists as being riddled with misrepresentations and errors of fact. This didn’t stop it from being widely popular around the world, and helping influence the likes of Opposition leader Tony Abbott and Australia’s most senior catholic, Cardinal George Pell.

Scientists have begun responding in much the same way to his new book (despite ordering the book myself more than a week ago, my order appears to have fallen into a black hole), by pointing out its errors and one-sided ideologically-driven narrative.

Review copies for the ABC and Fairfax newspapers have not fallen into a black hole, however. Rather, Plimer revealed in his Melbourne speech that the publisher Connor Court had refused to send them any review copies.

Media coverage so far has been relatively soft and unchallenging, with the ABC Radio National’s AM failing to balance any of the views of Plimer, Howard or the receptive audience in the room of the miners’ club.

Plimer is among friends at mining venues. He is a director of mining companies Ivanhoe AustraliaSilver City Minerals and the UK-listed Kefi Minerals, and is chairman of TNT Mines (he enjoyed remuneration of at least $140,000 from these companies and holds shares worth about $200,000). He resigned in November as a director of coal seam gas explorer Ormil Energy, even though he is still listed as a director on the company’s website.

These associations don’t tend to get a mention in Pilmer’s media coverage.

But the contents of his Melbourne speech do reveal the same tired and long-debunked arguments that scientists diligently tore to shreds in 2009 when his previous book was published.

Plimer claims that the climate has always changed (which it has) and that CO2 is a trace gas (which it is, but is accumulating in the atmosphere thanks to human activity) that couldn’t possibly affect the climate (which it can, and does).

A recent analysis of Plimer’s statements at the science-based website Skeptical Science — titled Plimer vs Plimer — shows how consistently he contradicts even his own statements.

At the Melbourne launch, for example, Plimer said that there’s no relationship between carbon dioxide and global warming. He makes the same statement in his book Heaven and Earth on page 278, but then on page 411, he says “Together with water vapour, CO2 keeps our planet warm so that it is not covered in ice, too hot or devoid of liquid water.”

If Plimer is aiming to target school children and families with his new book, then he’s also attune to the provocative and cynical nature of his pitch.

The book will in all likelihood help his followers and his fellow free-market ideologues to “maintain the rage”and their climate science denial — even if it is maintained on debunked science.

This post first appeared on Graham’s blog.


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14 thoughts on “Plimer’s new book aimed squarely at sceptic parents

  1. steve

    Christine Milne said “Every report that comes out anywhere in the world has shown that climate change is accelerating.” (thats what do: change up and down)

    “It is time for those people who deny the science of climate change to just get out of the way.” (I think I’ll just get outta the way now…..and wait for the greens to crash loudly after the community backlash over the carbon tax – that tax that dare not be mentioned in Govt advertisements.

  2. BillSmithy

    Plimer’s propaganda and science denial has been ripped apart by climate scientists at http://www.climatechange.gov.au/climate-change/understanding-climate-change/response-to-prof-plimer.aspx

  3. steve

    Rohan – dont know nuttin bout dis tart Emmy, but the stuff roo andy emits is pure gold, it is colourless, ordourless and if we could all breath out together we could green the world and solve the feeding of the masses! All together now…deep breath and…

  4. JimmyLeBass

    The thing is roo andy, just because I watch a TV set doesn’t mean I know anything about it if it goes wrong. I may have an opinion on my TV set, but if it breaks down I get a qualified serviceman to fix it. Each day when I wander outside and look at the sun and feel the breeze does not fill me with a deep understanding of how climate works. I would rather refer to a peer reviewed climate scientist. The CSIRO is probably a good place to start. I have no idea about climate science.

  5. Rohan

    @roo andy

    You deserve an Emmy award for the vacuity you Emmit.

  6. Eponymous

    Hilarious comments. Well done everyone. I used to believe in Climate Change, but after reading Roo’s comment above I’ve changed my mind.

    Thanks for the post Graham.

  7. heavylambs

    For the slow ones,let’s just repeat that Plimer’s book has a forward by conservative economist,politician and AGW denier Vaclav Klaus,and was launched in Sydney by conservative ex-politician John Howard and AGW ‘agnostic’ of convenience, at the Mining Club. Yet Plimer’s main concern is that kids are being fed political propaganda…

  8. kd

    [ emotional and beyond science ]

    Eh? I think you mean those with a vested interest in the status quo have muddied the waters more than sufficiently to have met their policy paralysis needs for the last 30 years or so. The science is fairly solid, although the deniers would have you believe otherwise. Strangely it’s the same science that enables the technology underpinning civilisaiton, but again the deniers don’t want you to know that.

  9. Fran Barlow

    [Looks like Crikey cant handle another opinion than their own.]

    Yet they published your remark, and that of the first poster. It would be fairer to say that you think the expression of any dissent from the venting of people such as Plimer amounts to “not handling another opinion than one’s own”. In short, in your view, “handling the opinion” means remaining silent.

    This is the kind of psychological projection that typifies the deniers in this area of discussion. They declare their own impulses as the impulses of those whose views they object to. This is much like Monckton, who declares supporters of action on CO2 mitigation to be “fascists” and pictures them next to swastikas, even while insisting that proponents of action are implying that deniers are N@zi apologists.

    Gosh but your lot are laughable.

    PS … thanks Graham for the piece. There’s an excellent take down of Plimer over at Skeptical Science.

    Plimer vs Plimer: a one man contradiction.

    See also the Monckton Manoeuvre Part 1, 2

  10. steve

    roo andy – you ticked all the boxes and flim/flam is living happily on his hawksbury waterfront while houses at lake cathie are compulsorily acquired by the local council because of the fear of ocean levels in 2100 – makes a lotta sense!

  11. Crispy

    Pretty much every statement roo andy spewed is an outright lie. Except the CO2 lag bit, which is just a dumb misrepresentation. Who is he/she/it trying to convince, other than himself?

    Nice class of supporters Plimer has.

    And who gives a rats about opinions, Nichols? We have to follow where the data and the physics lead.

  12. Nichols Tony

    And Crikey supposedly is spin free. Looks like Crikey cant handle another opinion than their own. Unfortuantely this debate has become emotional and beyond science.
    Crikey is going down the path of poor journalism.

  13. heavylambs

    Well, we have George Monbiot to thank for puncturing his floaties for a year or so,but he’s baaaack. Ego would not let him stay away I guess. With the usual round of useful fools to help promote it,not a fellow geologist among ’em..

  14. roo andy

    the seas are NOT rising, the globe is NOT warming, our drought broke, the glacier’s are expanding, polar bear population is increasing, the great barrier reef is flourishing, we Emmit 1.5% of 3% of world co2 emissions, the medieval warming period was real and was warmer than now, Greenland was once green (with vegetation), co2 concentrations rise 400-800 years AFTER temperature increases, anthropogenic global warming is the biggest scam of the 21st century and people need to stop and look at the (lack of) evidence that links “man made co2” to any global warming/climate change/global cooling… and your mate flannery is a fraud of a palaeontologist/ mammalogist.


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