Update 28 April 2009
Ian Plimer and his supporters seems incapable of looking at the evidence on climate change.
Part of Stephen Luntz crikey.com.au article about Plimer says he:
“has never published anything in a peer reviewed journal relating to the vast bulk of the topics covered. He is happy to reference a graph so fraudulent even its author withdrew it as deceptive. He cites as evidence a writer for a UK tabloid who has a history of promoting fraud across numerous fields of science. He repeatedly understates the number of scientists involved in the work he criticises, and attributes qualifications that do not exist to those who support his case. Claims that have been thoroughly debunked are treated as gospel. Personal abuse is hurled at those who do not agree with him. Most of the peer reviewed references come from a single journal whose professional standing is so low it is not carried by the International Scientific Index.”
Update 27 April 2009
Part letter to crikey.com.au
Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe, School of Science, Griffith University, writes: Re. “Review: Ian Plimer’s Heaven and Earth” (Friday, item 17). I have debated climate change in public with Ian Plimer on two occasions. His position is a mixture of geological science which is sound but essentially irrelevant to the present debate, combined with misrepresentation of recent climate science. His book is being applauded by the usual suspects, desperate for some pseudo-scientific justification for their denial of the harsh reality: the risk of dangerous human interference to the Earth’s climate system is now so great that we need an urgent and concerted global response.
Repost from Ebono Institute 21 April 2009
Discredited Geologist, Ian Plimer, has received undue publicity for his latest regurgitation of the fossil fuel industry’s favourite arguments denying global warming. Despite the lack of any new evidence, the paid up lobbyist has received support from a range of vested interests including the current executive of the National Farmers Federation (NFF). That organisation is engaged in a high risk bid to sell membership to agribusiness companies, despite widespread opposition from small farmers. Backing Plimer would appear to be a way to indicate support for the multinational corporations and polarise the membership before the crucial vote at the national conference in Brisbane. It is a ploy that could backfire.
Despite having been discredited a number of times, geologist Ian Plimer is making media waves and lots of money from his dogged opposition of the basic facts on climate change. With no qualifications in meteorology, climatology or hydrology, Plimer trots out the regular arguments used by the fossil fuel lobby. They are that most carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from geological events, that on a geological time frame we are due for a period of cooling rather than warming, and that on short term time frame trends in the last decade do not show consistent warming. In fact, until last year they showed distinct cooling, but the hottest summer on record in 2009 has blown that furphy and reduced its prominence in the denier’s standard spiel.
All these facts are true, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the evidence on global warming. The impact of human output of carbon dioxide is not significant compared to the swings in atomospheric concentrations of the gas over geological epochs, but it is remarkably significant over a time frame measured in centuries. Similarly, the galactic cycles that affect solar influence on the earth’s climate and the geological cycles that are measured in hundreds of thousands of years, may far outweigh the puny influence that living organisms have on the earth, but our life span and our influence is limited to the scale of individual centuries not thousands of them.
To jump from a scale of hundreds of thousands of years to a scale of individual years and then say, the long term picture and the short term picture, both show that climate science is wrong, is not only bad statistics, it is invalid science. The weather in individual years is almost useless in predicting trends and merely highlight the difference between the weather and the climate. Plimer has simply hunted for any evidence that runs counter to the overwhelming weight of evidence showing that human greenhouse emissions are damaging the earth.
It is always difficult, and dangerous, to attribute motives, but Plimer is not only receiving money and publicity directly from his denial of climate change, he is allied with the Canadian group, the Natural Resources Stewardship Project which refuses to confirm or deny whether its funding comes substantially from energy companies, but which has three directors who are executives of the High Park Advocacy Group, a lobby group working on behalf of energy companies. He is also an Associate of the Institute of Public Affairs, a right wing policy group with connections to the extreme dries in the Liberal Party that has published policy positions advocating privatisation, deregulation, reduction in the power of unions and denial of most significant environmental problems, including climate change.
The entire notion of balance in reporting has been abused by lobby groups from tobacco in the sixties, through star wars in the eighties to climate deniers now. If every extremist was given equal time to put their opinion on every item in the news, news bulletins would take hours and would be dominated by the rantings of extremists all demanding equal time. It is up to editors to decide what is fair on the basis of the evidence and community values, rather than let well backed publicists promote extreme views simply by demanding balance.
For the National Farmers Federation to promote Plimer’s contribution to the debate as a blow for balance is disingenuous at best and will be judged by most as deliberately misleading. Either way, it paints the organisation into a corner which is not in the best interests of its broadest membership base, farmers, from which it will be almost impossible to escape. Accepting the facts on global warming and working on new pasture and land management techniques to reduce methane production and biosequester carbon are what the world and the traditional membership of the NFF needs. To come out backing a lobbyist for the fossil fuel sector indicates the extreme positions that the current NFF leadership is prepared to adopt to court the agribusiness companies from which it hopes to get most of its money in the future. The fact that two state organisations have already deserted the once powerful lobby group on the basis of its support for agribusiness at the expense of the farmer on the land, indicates how thoroughly it has lost its way.
To back a discredited gun for hire who has been publicly shamed so many times indicates that it has lost its media savvy as well. The NFF could well lose the vote at next month’s national conference to alllow agribusiness companies in as paid up members. If it does, the current leadership will also be on the line. Backing Plimer is a high risk bid to polarise the membership. It might well backfire.
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