RealClimate Analysis Proves Plimer's Imbecility

Fri, 2009-08-28 15:54Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

RealClimate Analysis Proves Plimer's Imbecility 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 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.



But I thank my stars daily that the Gavin Schmidts of this world are willing to sigh deeply, roll their eyes, and set the record straight in a coherent and orderly way. That voice of reason and empirical insight will get us through this.


BTW – “codswallop” is a personal favourite. Don’t see it used much, though …

So Schmidt isn’t motivated at all by the glory of the bright lights shining on him as he flexes his mental muscles on the internet?

c’mon - we’re all human - we all like our name in lights a little. I don’t think there is so much real sighing going on over at real climate.

Give us a break Mr. James. How much credit does one really accrue by proving that you’re smarter than Ian Plimer? It’s like claiming giant status for being taller than Danny Devito. The tragic thing about the denier trolls is their total conviction that no one - ABSOLUTELY NO ONE - could be moved to do something because it’s the right thing to do. The guys at RealClimate have put in ridiculous hours pounding through this kind of trashy material. They have NOT got famous in the process. They have NOT made money. They have NOT signed book contracts. I never see them on MSNBC or writing guest columns on the Times op-ed page. They just work at what they do best, giving us steady, credible and scientifically defensible analysis of drivel such as that which we have enjoyed from the likes of Plimer. I marvel at their good will, at their work ethic and at their expertise. Unable to challenge any of those aspects, you dismiss their really excellent analysis as somehow flawed because, you say, Gavin Schmidt has chosen the most impractical and likely ineffective way in the world to try to get famous. So, if no one does anything except for money or applause, what in God’s name are you doing here?

==”The tragic thing about the denier trolls is their total conviction that no one - ABSOLUTELY NO ONE - could be moved to do something because it’s the right thing to do.”==

Equally disconcerting is the warmer’s belief that AGW can not be questioned in any manner. This religious-like fervour casting aside any questioners as “evil” has probably done more to stop meaningful action on AGW then anything else.

Warmers need to be reminded that they don’t set public policy, we the voters do. And until we are satisfied with the answers, we will withhold giving our politicians the authority to deal with this potential issue.

Paul S, you claim to want to be able to ask questions, in your disingenuous way. Can you answer them as well? Answer Monbiot’s questions.

But since you cannot answer Monbiot’s questions, you will no doubt keep lying about how you want to ask questions, when you really just want to obfuscate.

Monbiot doesn’t set public policy either. We do. And your calling anyone and everyone as “lying” who does have questions only diminishes you. Until we the public are satisfied, nothing much is going to happen.

What? No comment about Plimer’s lack of scientific credentials? You’re deflecting the discussion, Paul. It is supposed to be about the lack of any foothold the anti-AGW cronies have in terms of scientific validity. Quit trying to distract people from the issues.

No paul, I am calling you a liar, and pointing out that you have yet to ask a valid question about the science. You claim to want to ask questions, but you do not actually ask questions because you do not want to hear the answers.

And you do not set public policy, unless you are an elected member of our government. Is that it, paul, are you the creationist Minister of Science, or some other member of the Harper minority government’s extremely shallow talent pool?

Sorry Richard, I didn’t mean to offend.

and I don’t know anything about Schmidt except I think it’s probably a reasonable assumption that he enjoys his work including battling with skeptics, otherwise he probably wouldn’t bother. I’m just really teasing Fern about unnecessarily elevating a guy to near saint hood.

I like this site, even if I tend to voice disagreement or question things. One reason I come here is because I don’t want to just spend all my time on skeptic sites. I want to see what the other side has to say, because I realize that true believers on both sides are going to be prejudiced in their point of view.

True, I look for what I perceive as flaws, but I think that I can learn a few things here as well.

Unless qualified as “the patience of a saint.”

But if you are looking for flaws, Rick, you should be reading the science, not hanging around on a PR blog. Get thee to and see how Plimer holds up against the real thing. Fern

RickJames gets things backwards – again. If it’s about seeking the limelight you should not be pointing accusingly at Gavin Schmidt, but at Ian Plimer.

Surely Plimer’s motivation is achieving fame, or rather infamy.

Let’s face it, science is NOT what Plimer is about. Yet Plimer obviously knows enough to realise what he wrote in his book was a pack of lies.

I can only conclude he’s after international recognition and that he’s not good enough a scientist to do it honestly. His only approach is as an author of a controversial book – one that ‘challenges’ the consensus and since the science is strong and getting stronger all the time, that means using the approach used by the dishonest Michael Crichton, but without as many facts.


There are enough articles on the “myth of peak oil” floating around the Internet to fill a book; and there are enough books on the subject to fill a small library.  One of the common threads throughout these publications is their lack of credible sources, because not only is peak oil real, but we’re rapidly approaching that threshold. 

An example that is smacking the United...

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