RealClimate.org has stepped in to deliver a devastating aside in the unfolding “debate” between Guardian columnist George Monbiot and hopeless Australian climate change denier Ian Plimer.
The back-and-forth began when Monbiot ridiculed Plimer’s book Heaven and Earth as an unsourced, unscientific load of codswallop. Plimer retaliated with a challenge to a public debate, which challenge Monbiot rebuffed as giving Plimer an unwarranted opportunity to hold forth unaccountably. But then Monbiot reconsidered and said the he would debate Plimer if only the geologist and businessman would agree to answer some basic questions about the content of his book (like, where was he getting his purported evidence; some of the footnotes can’t be sourced).
Plimer at first ducked and then promised to provide answers. But when he sent Monbiot the next email, it contained only a new set of questions - clearly intended to tie Monbiot up in an irrelevant confusion of “science.”
Monbiot declared, correctly, that he was not a climate scientist (of course, neither is Plimer; rather, Monbiot said, he was just challenging Plimer to explain serious criticism that had been leveled at Heaven and Earth. Plimer went quiet.
Fortunately for us all, the guys at RealClimate.org really ARE climate scientists and they have answered Plimer’s list of questions, giving them marks for relevance and scientific content. Poor Plimer. He didn’t merely fail to bring a cogent and pertinent argument, he crashed and burned.
Plimer’s questions, as some of us had suspected, didn’t add anything to the climate change conversation, scoring 23 out of 65 on relevance and, generally, somewhere between a D and an F on scientific content. The exceptions were a couple of questions that scored quite high on scientific accuracy but which actually proved that climate change IS an undeniable concern.
This brings me to a moment of joy and despair. I am delighted that the good folks at RealClimate - all of whom have day jobs that are, themselves, demanding enough - somehow find time to groundtruth this drivel. The climate change conversation is so badly corrupted that it’s a blessing when people who actually know what they are talking about weigh in.
But despair that they have to. As I say, the RealClimate guys (Gavin Schmidt in this instance) have real jobs. They could be spending their time advancing the cause of climate knowledge. Instead, they are having to take part in a rearguard action to fend off pikers like Plimer, whose dusty geology degree confers virtually no expertise in the field. If we ever doubted it, he’s proved afresh with this trip to the public podium.