# Ian Enting is checking Plimer’s claims

Ian Enting has been checking the claims Ian Plimer makes in his error-filled book. His list of errors and other problematic claims is here. [Link updated to version 1.7]. He’s found plenty that I missed. For example:

p 409: New Orleans sunk rapidly by about 1 metre in the three years before Katrina struck. This time (unlike p 303, item18) a reference is cited: by Dixon and others Nature, 441, 587-588 (2006) from radar satellite altimetry. They report a three-year average of -5.6±2.5 mm/year, with a maximum of -29mm/year (negative values indicating subsidence). They note that if the motion is interpreted as purely vertical, the mean and maximum become 6.4 mm/year and 33 mm/year.

The overlap between Enting’s list of 33 statements and my list of 59 statements is very small — just five statements are on both lists. We can use the Lincoln-Peterson method that ecologists use to estimate the size of animal populations to estimate the total number of errors and problematic statements in Plimer’s book. Let P be the set of errors and problematic statements in Plimer’s book and p be the number of elements in P and assume that Enting and I have produced independent samples from P. Then the fraction of elements of P in my sample will be expected to be the same as the fraction of elements in Enting’s sample that are also in my sample. That is, 59/p = 5/33 so p = (59*33)/5 = 390. That’s almost one for every page!

Of course, our samples are unlikely to be statistically independent since there are some errors that are so blatant (like the Swindle graph) that both us were certain to notice them. This suggest that my estimate of 390 errors and problematic statements is probably an underestimate.

1. #1 bi -- IJI
May 16, 2009

Shorter janama:

“The behavior of clouds is […] parameterized” means “climate models don’t do clouds”.

2. #2 janama
May 17, 2009

•parameterization – The representation of physical effects by simplified parameters in a computer model rather than by computing them dynamically

3. #3 DavidK
May 17, 2009

The behavior of clouds is still poorly understood and is parametrized. The effects of clouds are a significant area of uncertainty in climate models.

Janama ->

i.e. climate models don’t do clouds!

Yes they do, but:

The behavior of clouds is still poorly understood and is parametrized. The effects of clouds are a significant area of uncertainty in climate models.

… I won’t bother reading any further.

4. #4 bi -- IJI
May 17, 2009

Shorter janama:

“Parameterized” means “simplified” which according to ‘skeptic logic’ means “omitted”.

5. #5 jamama
May 17, 2009

No “Parameterized” means simple represention. Stop trying to translate – just read my post.

6. #6 sod
May 17, 2009

In some models, simulation of marine lowlevel
clouds, which are important for correctly simulating sea
surface temperature and cloud feedback in a changing climate, has also improved.

this is from chapter 8, 4th assessment report. you will find clouds being mentioned a lot.

7. #7 janama
May 17, 2009

this is from chapter 8, 4th assessment report. you will find clouds being mentioned a lot.

mentioning doesn’t mean they know anything about them.

They still aren’t included in the playstation climate model.

8. #8 sod
May 17, 2009

They still aren’t included in the playstation climate model.

what part of

models, simulation of marine lowlevel clouds,

did you not understand?

9. #9 TrueSceptic
May 17, 2009

105 janama,

A “rant”? Surely you mean point-by-point demolition?

And what else could we call Plimer’s book but a collection of lies, misrepresentations, and (actual) rants?

10. #10 TrueSceptic
May 17, 2009

112 janama,

What is this “playstation climate model”? Perhaps you could enlighten us? Is there just the one? Are there other models? Have you examined them so see how they are coded?

11. #11 bi -- IJI
May 17, 2009

Shorter janama:

I don’t need to read the IPCC report to know that the climate models used by the IPCC don’t handle clouds! (And I’m never going to read the IPCC report, because I’m afraid it’ll fill my head with Marxist ideas.)

12. #12 Dan L.
May 17, 2009

> Here is an example of

> 1) what kind of “science” Roy Spencer posts on blogs

> 2) me showing by example why his conclusion in this case is rubbish

> 3) mathematical proof his conclusion is unfounded.

> [snip] BTW, Anthony Watts was all too happy to completely ignore my arguments and instead claim Spencer’s piece to be a reply. None of the above would (or rather should,
> you’ve got to be careful today) ever pass peer review.

Most amusing, thanks for the links.

Funniest of all is Mr. Science Blog of the Year tucking his tail between his legs and running away from the failure of his “Yeah, but Clinton..!” argument.

Hilarious.

13. #13 DavidK
May 17, 2009

Janama

I applaud you, notwithstanding you have difficulty in comprehending the science … you have courage to come to this site and argue your case (you might find it much easier at Jen’s Jackals site).

14. #14 bluegrue
May 17, 2009

janama is simply channeling Plimer:

See time mark 5:00, emphasis added

but the rabid environmentalists have grasped onto this as a new religion. And I have the holy book, the IPCC books, which I have not read, but most religious people have not read the holy books anyway. I have the guru, or the leader, which is Al Gore, and they blindly follow this, without reasoning, without questioning.

15. #15 Gaz
May 17, 2009

bluegrue, re your quote of PLimer “..the IPCC books, which I have not read..”.

I think to be fair to Plimer he actually said “the IPCC books, which THEY have not read”. He just didn’t enunciate it very well.

Of course it’s an unfounded claim and an attack on the science using the extreme fringe as a proxy rather than tackle the science head on.

It may also be the expression of the hope that because his supporters filter their understanding of climate science through people like him then his detractors must also.

Whatever it is, it isn’t an admission that he is deliberately ignorant, nor is it a ready-made explanation of why his depiction of climate science is so screwy.

16. #16 Lee
May 17, 2009

This is funny. Here, Janama is arguing that the models ‘don’t do clouds.’

Over on the “Ian Plimer lies…” thread, Janama is quoting Christy to argue that the models don’t get clouds right – apparently because what happens with clouds in the models doesn’t match the IRIS hypothesis

17. #17 Lee
May 17, 2009

Note that Plimer also said this:

“. p. 365: Clouds are not factored into climate models. Untrue. See for example sections 12 and 13 of CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research Technical Paper no. 26, available on-line from the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research website. ”

So Plimer is making a very clear statement that the models dont deal with clouds – which is absurdly wrong.

18. #18 NEIL C
May 17, 2009

As a practising scientist I have been following the debate over Plimer’s book with considerable interest. To do this I placed a “Plimer” Google Alert and many of the hits since the release of his book have led to this site. The debate the book has started will someday be an interesting study in “adversarial science” where the objective is to discredit the opposition rather than determine the truth. In my case it has caused me to shift from a fairly unquestioning acceptance of the mainstream AGW view of warming driven by C02, to a general acceptance of the picture Plimer paints in his rambling book of an ever changing planet in which there has been a series of alternating warm and cool periods. There is abundant evidence that even recent warm periods such as the Roman warming and the Mediaeval warming were at their peaks warmer than today. None of these former periods of warming & cooling can be related to CO2 content (and certainly not anthropogenic CO2). Why would we think the current warming period as we come out of the little ice age would have a cause different from the earlier ones? This I take to be the central thesis of Plimer’s book.
The response on this site has been fascinating. Prof Ashley’s attempted demolition in The Australian was an excellent and well constructed example of how to demolish an opponent without addressing his central arguments. Ashley dismissively notes that a number of Plimer’s beliefs are “laughable” when in fact at least some of these are well established observations by reputable scientists (eg CFC’s in volcanic emissions (refer Brasseur et al 1992 on CFCs in Mt Pinatubo aerosols), the declining efficacy of CO2 as a greenhouse agent as concentration increases (the logarithmic relationship is well accepted). He refers to Plimer’s reference to mass diffusion in the sun as displaying “ignorance” when in fact Plimer is quoting from an article in a peer reviewed journal Astrophysics, and in any case this was mentioned as an aside and is irrelevant to Plimer’s model of an ever changing Earth. If these are the only criticisms Prof Ashley can produce about Plimer’s book it is indeed praise. And then as the coup de grace he suggests Plimer’s book be put up on the shelf with Von Daniken. An excellent example of Adversarial Science!
Then there is Tim Lambert’s and Ian Enting’s more numerical approach of combing the book for inaccuracies, errata and omissions, while in the process not seeming to read the central ideas. I have done only a quick scan of Enting’s list and noticed it points out obvious typo’s like “adsorb” instead of “absorb”. I also noticed Tim’s gleeful report that he had discovered one of Plimer’s references cites a subsidence of New Orleans considerably less than the metre quoted by Plimer. Again, irrelevant to the story (and in fact as a subsequent poster pointed out the referenced author had elsewhere mentioned subsidence in places of about 3 feet).
Then there is the frequent demand for peer review. While peer review has a useful place in publication, it also has downsides. E.g the Wegman Committee report to Congress on Mann’s temperature reconstructions noted “In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review which was not necessarily independent”.
It seems to me that Plimer’s book is largely a history of Earth’s climate pieced together by voluminous observations from many disciplines. Much of the evidence could be called “circumstantial’, and at times even conflicting but the sheer weight of it gives a clear picture of an ever changing climate, alternating periods of warm & cold, and a climate derived from a complex mixture of processes. Plimer’s approach is broad brush, whereas his opponents are focussed in the minutiae (e.g. a significant portion of the original hockey stick graph which figured prominently in earlier IPCC reports was derived from tree ring measurements from a very small number of trees. Little wonder it failed to detect the Mediaeval Warming and Little Ice ages for which evidence abounds). Similarly it is not important to Plimer’s picture of the Earth’s Climate whether one interprets a cooling trend since 1998 or, by eliminating outliers, draws an upward trend. The point is that all historical evidence suggests we are likely to shortly move out of this current warming into another cooling a la the Little Ice Age, if it hasn’t already started. And more worryingly that it is a near certainty that sometime in the next 1000 years or so we will move into another glacial period of c. 100,000 years, of the sort that will put many major cities under a km of ice, as we have done 9 or 10 times before in the current glacial epoch. Now that will really pose some problems for humanity.
It seems to me the likelihood is that both sides of the debate are at least partially correct i.e. rising CO2 levels may well be contributing to warming, but a la Plimer this is insignificant in the light of normal climate variability.

19. #19 sod
May 18, 2009

the picture Plimer paints in his rambling book of an ever changing planet in which there has been a series of alternating warm and cool periods.

you are missing a big part of that big picture. the planet just doesn t have “warm and cool periods occasionally”. their is a CAUSE for each of those phases!

s. There is abundant evidence that even recent warm periods such as the Roman warming and the Mediaeval warming were at their peaks warmer than today.

no, there isn t. Loehle for example finds basically no difference, and when using a better method would find modern temps ABOVE the MWP.

in fact at least some of these are well established observations by reputable scientists (eg CFC’s in volcanic emissions (refer Brasseur et al 1992 on CFCs in Mt Pinatubo aerosols)

CFCs from volcanoes are IRRELEVANT, in comparison with those produced by us.

It seems to me that Plimer’s book is largely a history of Earth’s climate pieced together by voluminous observations from many disciplines. Much of the evidence could be called “circumstantial’, and at times even conflicting

in short: he is writing rubbish, but a lot of it. GOOD BOOK!

we have been dealing with the “controversial” arguments from denialists for some time now. you need a CAUSE for what is warming earth today. if you don t have a theory, the stick to the mainstream!

20. #20 Dirk Hartog
May 18, 2009

Neil C,

If you are a practising scientist as you say, how about practicing some science and question your following statement: He refers to Plimer’s reference to mass diffusion in the sun as displaying “ignorance” when in fact Plimer is quoting from an article in a peer reviewed journal Astrophysics.

What you will find is that there is no journal called “Astrophysics”.

Plimer’s reference is wrong.

There is publication called “The Astrophysical Journal”, but the page number that Plimer gives refers to another paper.

There are many of us here who have gone to the trouble of carefully examining Plimer’s book, and when you do so, the whole thing falls apart. Rather than believe what Plimer says, why not do a bit of digging yourself? Look up a few of the 2311 footnotes. See how many of them are wrong, or don’t support the argument. Maybe contact an expert in the field and ask them about a specific point.

You say that in any case this was mentioned as an aside and is irrelevant to Plimer’s model of an ever changing Earth. So, if we strip away all the errors in Plimer’s book then all we are left with is “an ever changing Earth”? No one disagrees with that. I would hope that we were left with something substantial, like the proof that human-produced CO2 has no effect on the climate, something that Plimer says he has provided repeatedly.

And I question if it is just an “aside” to believe a paper that says that the sun has the same chemical abundances as a meteorite. How many of these sort of “asides” are you willing to tolerate before you have an inkling of a suspicion that Plimer might not be reliable about anything?

21. #21 Bernard J.
May 18, 2009

Neil C.

As a practising scientist I am very sceptical of your claim that you are a practising scientist.

If I were to publish a paper or a monograph as riddled with errors of fact and of editing as Plimer’s is, I would be mortally embarrassed to show my face to my colleagues. In fact, if I produced a document with a tenth as many errors I would be ashamed.

Your dismissal of some of the points raised by Ian Enting, Tim Lambert and Barry Brook indicate to me that you are not sufficiently acquainted with the material involved to be able to make a critical analysis of Plimer’s book, nor of those who are deconstructing it. Your aversion to carriage returns indicates to me that you are certainly not a publishing scientist, and that if by some chance you are, that you must employ someone else to edit your material.

Perhaps if you engaged this same person to edit your assessment of the facts in this case, you might be able to pursuade us of your real understanding of the science.

22. #22 bluegrue
May 18, 2009

#120 Grat,
thanks for listening into the interview. I took your cue with regard to I/THEY, however, after repeated listening he still sounds to me like saying
> the IPCC books, which ___I___ have not read

> the IPCC books, which ___THEY___ have not read

I conceed, that I am not a native speaker and could be wrong. It could also be a slip of tongue on Plimer’s part..

Would please some more native speakers listen to the 30-second segment of Plimer’s interview, starting at 5:00
and report back? TIA. My transcript is at comment #119.

23. #23 Chris O'Neill
May 18, 2009

Neil C:

There is abundant evidence that even recent warm periods such as … the Mediaeval warming were at their peaks warmer than today.

If you’re referring to global temperatures then the above claim is just not true.

In my case it has caused me to shift from a fairly unquestioning acceptance of the mainstream AGW view of warming driven by C02, to a general acceptance of the picture Plimer paints

So you’ve gone from being unquestioning and presumably not very knowledgeable to supposedly knowledgeable just through reading Plimer’s book. Pardon me if I think that means you’re still pretty ignorant.

24. #24 san quintin
May 18, 2009

Neil C:
As one practising scientist to another…I’m intrigued by your claim that within 1000 years we’ll enter a new glaciation. Would you elaborate on this?

25. #25 Barton Paul Levenson
May 18, 2009

NEIL C writes:

There is abundant evidence that even recent warm periods such as the Roman warming and the Mediaeval warming were at their peaks warmer than today.

No, there is not. Neither of those “periods” seems to have been global. There are good evidence for warm periods in Europe and China during the middle ages, but at different times.

None of these former periods of warming & cooling can be related to CO2 content (and certainly not anthropogenic CO2). Why would we think the current warming period as we come out of the little ice age would have a cause different from the earlier ones?

Because CO2 is rising steeply, we know CO2 is a greenhouse gas, temperature is rising, and the changes in temperature correlate with the changes in CO2 (r = 0.86 for 1880-2007). What more do you want?

26. #26 Donald Oats
May 20, 2009

Re #119: I listened to the clip and I’m fairly sure Plimer says “…which *they* haven’t read…”

I’d give him the benefit of the doubt on this. Still unclear how “I” and “they” can sound so similar…

27. #27 Philip Machanick
May 26, 2009

NEIL C: CFCs from a volcano? I looked for a paper by Brasseur et al. 1992 and found this: Guy Brasseur. Volcanic aerosols implicated, Nature 359, 275-276 (24 September 1992) doi:10.1038/359275a0 – sure enough the article mentions CFCs and mentions chlorine emissions from the volcano, but not even a scientist of Brasseur’s standing was able to turn a volcano into a CFC factory. He clearly differentiates between artificially-produced CFCs and atmospheric chlorine, without mentioning a specific compound. Neil, if you haven’t gone away, have I found the wrong reference? After all this one is Brasseur alone, not et al. I would be fascinated to find out how a volcano could manufacture CFCs.

28. #28 John Mashey
June 9, 2009

re: #101 (me, on Ian Enting’s book Twisted)

It did get here to California, got the head of my input queue and I read it.

I recommend it highly, and it is to bad that it is not more easily available.
It is well-presented, and I think (mostly) accessible to a general audience.

It is obviously relevant to Australia. For others interested in understanding the structure of anti-science, it really helps to have multiple instances for comparison, and this gave me some more context for Oz.

29. #29 Ian Enting
June 10, 2009

NEIL C:
“It seems to me that Plimer’s book is largely a history of Earth’s climate pieced together by voluminous observations from many disciplines. Much of the evidence could be called “circumstantial’, and at times even conflicting but the sheer weight of it gives a clear picture of an ever changing climate, alternating periods of warm & cold, and a climate derived from a complex mixture of processes.” A good description of Plimer’s book, the one called: A Short History of Planet Earth. But Heaven + Earth is to a first approximation, the Short history …. padded out with fabrications.

Like many other’s on this blog, I find it hard to credit that a “practising scientist” can read things like New Orleans sinking 1 meter in 3 years, rocky composition of the sun, or earth has less water than other planets and asteroids, without a whole lot of alarm bells ringing.