Clumsy Denier Ian Plimer Limps AWAY FROM the Finish Line

Tue, 2009-09-15 17:00Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Clumsy Denier Ian Plimer Limps AWAY FROM the Finish Line

The panicky Professor Ian Plimer appears to have run from the field of intelligent debate in his latest duck-and-dodge fest with UK Guardian Columnist George Monbiot.

Plimer is the author of Heaven and Earth, a terrible hash of logical misdirection, plagiarism and mistakes which was shredded into fine bits by people like our favourite Australian, Tim Lambert at Deltoid blog.

After Monbiot joined the public lashing, Plimer protested and demanded that Monbiot engage with him in debate. Monbiot agreed, but only on condition that Plimer first respond in writing to a handful of questions about the accuracy and source of material in his book.

Plimer has been hiding out ever since. First he lobbed back a laughable collection of counter questions which he has since suggested were intended to test whether Monbiot had read Heaven and Earth. There is no evidence these queries were designed to solicit answers - the prime purpose seemed to have been distraction - but Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate.org nevertheless answered them all, grading them for relevance and scientific content. Fail. Fail.

Plimer has since been incensed (and insensible) in his correspondence (which Monbiot has provided here in full). For example, in trying to weasel out of answering the queries that Monbiot had posed, Plimer says:

“… your questions appear to derive from a person with an unhealthy incandescent anger hence the lack of structure, coherence, internal consistency and hints of irrationality.”

Well, let’s take an example. Here is Monbiot’s question #10, directed politely to the good Dr. Plimer:

“You state that “Volcanoes produce more CO2 than the world’s cars and industries combined.” (p413)

This is similar to the claim in The Great Global Warming Swindle, whose narrator maintained that “Volcanoes produce more CO2 each year than all the factories and cars and planes and other sources of man-made carbon dioxide put together.”

But you do not provide a source for it.

This is what the US Geological Survey says: “Human activities release more than 130 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes”.
 http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/index.php

a. Please provide a reference for your claim.

b. How do you explain the discrepancy between this claim and the published data?

Far from Plimer’s peavish characterization, this questions (like all the others) seems well-structured, coherent, internally consistent and entirely rational.  Although, you could argue that it is overlong. A shorter version might have been:

“Dear Dr. Plimer, Are you a liar or an incompetent doofus? Please provide sources to support your response.”

Apparently, Plimer is stumped by the annoying rationality of this inquiry - or he simply has no sources to quote.

We are left to wonder - as Monbiot is left alone on the stage.

Previous Comments

um - maybe Plimer isn’t real or something - maybe he’s a plant or maybe his book is doing so poorly that he agreed to accept a Monbiot bribe to play dumb - thats all I got

Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy. http://www.thewiidownloadsreview.com

“a person with an unhealthy incandescent anger hence the lack of structure, coherence, internal consistency and hints of irrationality” says Ian about George Monbiot.

Look in the mirror, says I.

Monbiot is a Journalist, Plimer is a Chicken!

The truth is Plimer painted himself into the corner and is now hoping everyone will look away while the paint dries so he can slink away like the denialist creep he undoubtedly is.

We are going to keep-on reminding Plimer that he was caught red-handed lying about the science and we are never going to stop reminding him of his deceit.

Monbiot set the trap and Plimer blundered-in. Plimer has no-one to blame but himself. Serves him right!

Richard, this is a fine piece of writing. I especially like the last line. Applause to Monbiot, and to you.

Seems to me a volcano can produce more CO2 than humans emit, I think it depends on the size of the eruption. For instance, I would bet that when Krakatoa erupted, it emitted more CO2 than we produce in a year. Obviously, I cannot prove this but it cannot be proven false either.

You really, REALLY need to do some reading, Shooshman! Do you suppose that the US Geological Survey just makes this stuff up? Why would Plimer refuse to cite his source if he is so sure of his position? Maybe it just “seems to him” that it must be true.

Once again, I implore you to go to RealClimate’s “Start Here” section and get some basic information about what can be proven and what can’t. Then there is the IPPC site at http://www.ipcc.ch/ Fern

Seems to me that shooshmon emits more verbiage than the rest of humanity.

…of a single volcano must be enormous to surpass the emissions by human activities. You are aware that all volcanoes on earth combined emit less than 1% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions?

But we can also deduce the likelyhood of your claim being true by comparing with the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, which was in the same volcanic explosivity index as that of Mount Krakatoa (VEI 6). You can get accurate CO2 data from several places in the world at several time-points in 1991, and there is not even a very short spike. In contrast, the ‘long term’ effect (up to several years) of major (subaerial) volcanic eruptions is to lower the temperature, resulting in more CO2 UPTAKE.

Someone please clarify this for me. How can the size of the eruption not matter in regards to how much co2 is released?

Could someone please provide a link on how co2 is measured when a volcano erupts? Since there is already co2 in the air, it seems to me it would be hard to accurately measure how much co2 the volcano spews out.

For answers to these and your other questions, PLEASE go to the science sites I have suggested, or to http://www.usgs.gov/, and click on “Volcanoes” in the Science Topics box at the right side of the screen. Fern

I’ve done some work and it seems that most believe volcanoes are not contributing on the level of manmade emissions. However, I stumbled across an article in Science that claims that termites emit 10 times more CO2 than humans.

That would be the article published in Science in 1982, cited as the source for this statement at http://ILoveCarbonDioxide.com: “According to the journal Science, termites alone emit ten times more carbon dioxide than all the factories and automobiles in the world.”

Perhaps someone with a subscription would have a look at the full article and respond to Shooshmon re: whether it has been misinterpreted?

Citation in full, with abstract: Termites: A Potentially Large Source of Atmospheric Methane, Carbon Dioxide, and Molecular Hydrogen
P. R. ZIMMERMAN 1, J. P. GREENBERG 1, S. O. WANDIGA 2, and P. J. CRUTZEN 3

1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado 80307
2 University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
3 Max Planck Institute for Atmospheric Chemistry, Mainz, Germany

Termites may emit large quantities of methane, carbon dioxide, and molecular hydrogen into the atmosphere. Global annual emissions calculated from laboratory measurements could reach 1.5 x 1014 grams of methane and 5 x 1016 grams of carbon dioxide. As much as 2 x 1014 grams of molecular hydrogen may also be produced. Field measurements of methane emissions from two termite nests in Guatemala corroborated the laboratory results. The largest emissions should occur in tropical areas disturbed by human activities.
Submitted on August 17, 1981
Revised on July 9, 1982

It was already ‘corrected’ by Collins and Wood in 1984 (also in Science), who show that Zimmerman et al’s estimate was at least an order of magnitude too large.

There is a difference between natural C fluxes, which have been balanced by carbon sinks and anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuels which have overwhelmed these sinks.

For termites to be responsible for a change in atmospheric CO2 [methane degrades to CO2], something has to have changed. Is anyone suggesting that termites are extraterrestrial and arrived around 1750? A quick search showed that termites have been here for at least 100 million years [early Cretaceous].

So what has changed? Humans started burning fossil-fuels in significant quantities around 1750. This use has increased ever since.

However it is known that fossil fuels are deficient in heavy carbon. As CO2 has accumulated in the atmosphere and the ocean, the isotopic ratio has been shifting towards lighter isotopes. This is the Suess effect. This shows the source of the extra carbon is derived from fossil fuels. It also shows that natural sources are not responsible.
-
Chapter 2
Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and in Radiative Forcing
2.3.1 Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide page 137
Figure 2.3 page 138
http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/wg1-report.html
-
We are now moving into new territory, because the warming is stimulating natural carbon sinks to release stored carbon.

Please note that DeSmogBlog is about “fact based information regarding Global Warming misinformation campaigns”.

If you want to learn about the science:
Look at the URLs provided by Femack

I don’t know if this matters much because CO2 levels have been higher and the temperature has been higher at earlier points in history. Thus I don’t know if the carbon sinks are in any real danger of releasing large amounts of extra CO2, in fact I the temperature would have to be much warmer. I also wonder if the Suess effect has occurred before in history and if everyone agrees the effect even exists.

I take it back. It turns out: wa-a-ay too optimistic …

Are you going to read some science?

CO2 levels are at their highest for at least 650 ky.
Yes temperatures have been higher, but there were no humans around.
The Suess effect is an observation of fact that has a theoretical basis, it is not subject to dispute. Disputing Suess is rather like defining Pi=3, [yes that too has been tried].

As for carbon sinks becoming carbon sources, this is being observed! Once they start emitting more CO2/Methane than humans, then there would be no possibility of stopping rapid climate change and that would inevitably be a very bad thing.
That this kind of thing could be dangerous: see Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum. This is not the sort of experiment we should attempt to replicate, whether deliberately or by accident. It could even be game-over!

It is irrelevant whether everyone will agree on Suess or indeed anything else. There are so many loonies out there, who will believe any stupidity. For example: flat-earthers, moon-landing conspiracy theorists, 9/11 conspiracy theorists, believers in homoeopathy, acupuncture and fairies at the bottom of the garden.

Unfortunately, people are disputing the science for no good reason. Many scientists and citizens have for some time been growing increasingly concerned that too little action is being taken to limit carbon emissions and the primary reason is that vested interests are using political interference and well-funded disinformation campaigns to undermine the public perception of science and subvert the democratic process.

May I remind you this is not the forum for disputing the science.
Do yourself and everyone else a favour and limit your claims to those based upon science in p/r science journals.

A clear, educational, thoughtful and respectful comment - though perhaps too optimistic given Shoosh’s evident determination to ignore the evidence. But hey, I am even encourged that he or she has moved on the question of volcanoes. Things may be looking up.

I’m open to changing my mind but am not getting answers to certain questions. Sorry, I’m kind of jumping around with my thoughts but I think they are good questions. Is it possible that the clouds could cause negative and positive feedback or can it only go one way. I ask this because I’ve read that clouds are the biggest uncertainty regarding global warming. Earlier, I asked about the Suess effect on carbon sinks and it just seems to me that it may not matter because CO2 levels have been higher at other times in history.

If you are looking for answers to scientific questions, go to the sources I have cited and find out what the scientists have to say. Don`t keep asking bloggers posting here. Climate Criminal is very well informed (and I agree with RL – very good post, CC!), but there is a lot more solid information at RealCLimate, the IPPC site, USGS, National Snow and Ice Data Centre, Science-AAAS, and many others. From your posts, I get the impression you are getting your answers from denier sites. Fern

Go to Femack’s references, if you really want answers. You need to learn to ask the right questions of the right people.

I have come to the conclusion that Shooshmon is not the dimwit he would like us to think he is. He is a common, garden-variety troll, and should be dismissed as such. He popped up here, wide-eyed and innocent about climate change, but proceeded to march through the talking points one, two, three like a good little soldier. He’s playing us. We should cut him loose.

BTW, Hi there VJ. Have you been on holiday? Fern

Hi Fern. No, I’m between jobs at present so have more time to spend online; and I’m generally commenting less on most websites anyway.

I was wondering if shooshmon was a sockpuppet for Paul S.

Plimer lowers my already low opinion of the value of higher education. I mean he’s some kind of prof. Those white coats they all wear are just dysfunctional straight jackets.

…a reference to Zimmerman again. You are aware that a mere two years later they were already corrected? Oh wait, that’s an inconvenient paper, and thus is to be ignored.

Desmog is doing some really terrific work these days. Well done!