Ian Plimer responds to criticism with by calling his critics names and failing to address their arguments. In an interview on BBC Radio 4, Plimer spouts his usual outrageous falsehoods:

“We cannot stop carbon emissions because most of them come from volcanoes.”

Not true — even Martin Durkin’s Swindle retracted this one.

And when the interviewer brought up Michael Ashley’s devastating review of Heaven and Earth, we got this:

Plimer: “When you look at my critics — they are people who are rent seekers. They have everything to gain by continuing the process of frightening people witless, by following the party line, …”

Interviewer: “Do you say that they are deliberately fraudulent?”

Plimer: “Well I’m saying that they are taking advantage of the current situation. Now that’s understandable. In previous times people have got wonderful research grants in a war against cancer and they achieved a lot of money for that. Now we have a war against climate change and there is huge number of people out there that have their careers staked on it and are beneficiaries from this process. And Michael Ashley is one of those.”

Actually, Ashley is an astronomer and his career is not staked on climate change research at all. It is symptomatic of Plimer’s approach that he didn’t bother to check this and just made things up.

And notice how Plimer is now sounding like a cancer quack. Compare:

There was a woman whose daughter was in the advanced stages of brain cancer. She asked her oncologist if it was okay to give her daughter a superfood called blue green algae. Her doctor told her that it was no problem, that in fact a number of his patients had used that supplement with success in fighting cancer.

Naturally she wondered why he didn’t tell her about this product a year before when they came to him.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t tell her about this or any “natural or alternative health therapies” and stay employed. Insurance regulations would preclude such suggestions. And he could get into administrative trouble by recommending natural, non-drug treatments for cancer.

His advice is controlled by a large medical industry that makes mega money off expensive cancer fighting drugs and treatments. An industry that doesn’t look favorably on natural supplements or other cancer treatments as they cannot patent them to make high profits.

Also of interest to Plimerologists Andrew Adam’s report of Plimer’s undebate:

Ok, I’m back and it was a thoroughly depressing evening. As has been pointed out, although it was billed as a “debate” Plimer was the only speaker – of course Monbiot famously, and understandably, pulled out but surely they had plenty of time to find someone else. What’s more, the audience was overwhelmingly favourable to Plimer, ok probably unsurprising given it was organised by the Spectator, but to an extent which was pretty shocking even so. You might have thought that given the above it was incumbent on Neill to ask Plimer some searching questions himself. He did raise a couple of points but accepted Plimer’s answers even though they were disingenuous to say the least. It also took him a long time to realise that maybe he needed to seek out the opinions of those who disagreed with Plimer, and even then some people who put their hands up and were chosen actually supported Plimer. I had my hand up all evening and was finally called right at the end but probably due to my bad temper by that time and being hurried through lack of time didn’t make my point as coherently as I would have liked. There was only one other person who actually seriously challenged Plimer all evening. OK, I suppose I shouldn’t have known what to expect to a large extent but even so, I didn’t think it would be that bad.
Anyway, I will be writing a more detailed account for my blog, probably over the weekend, so I’ll post a link in case anyone wants to know more.


  1. #1 Ratel
    November 12, 2009

    Another Plimer exposé:

  2. #2 Lank
    November 12, 2009

    “of course Monbiot famously, and understandably, pulled out”….
    Yep a real famous ‘trier’ is your Mr Monbiot. But sounds like he was aptly represented by the bad tempered and less than coherent alarmist Adams.

  3. #3 Stu
    November 12, 2009

    The saddest thing is that in none of the transcripts of Plimer interviews I’ve read has anyone called him on his downright stupid position on CO2 and volcanoes, or any of his other completely wrong claims. For the most part what he says is accepted uncritically, which is just depressing because to the layman it makes it look like he’s correct.

    The person who came closest to exposing him in interview was Tony Jones: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/04/plimer_does_the_gish_gallop.php

    “TONY JONES: Let’s look at the evidence from this Hadley centre, the data for global mean temperatures. You’ve acknowledged they’re reliable, they say 1998 is the hottest year on record, 2005 the second hottest year on record, the third hottest is 2003, the fourth 2002, the fifth hottest 2004, the sixth 2006.

    Now, if these figures are right, isn’t it reasonable to state that global temperatures remained on a remarkably high plateau rather than cooling, as you’re suggesting?

    IAN PLIMER: No, in the 1930s, it was much hotter. We had from 1920 to 1940 far less arctic sea ice than now, much, much warmer temperatures.

    TONY JONES: But not according to the Hadley centre…

    [some chat about La Nina, Jones making good points about how long you need for ‘climate’ to become meaningful]

    …TONY JONES: And you claim that NASA now states the four top years of high temperatures are in fact the 1930s.

    IAN PLIMER: That was in 1930, there was a date in the 1920s, and one in the 1940s.

    TONY JONES: OK, you mean the hottest global temperatures were in that period.

    IAN PLIMER: No, the hottest US temperatures, not the hottest global temperatures. They occur in mid-latitude deserts. They don’t occur in areas such as the US, which is not mid-latitude desert.”

    Plimer apparently can’t distinguish between global and regional temperature. Nor can he distinguish between absolute temperature and temperature anomalues. Despite trying, Jones can’t persue it far enough to make the audience realise that Plimer really doesn’t have a clue because Plimer keeps trying to change the subject.

    There’s also this:

    “IAN PLIMER: I’m not. I’m arguing that when you look at the history of the planet – when you look at the history of the planet, climate is always changing. Now, you’re pushing these points very hard, Tony. Now, if I embrace your party line…

    TONY JONES: It’s not a party line.

    IAN PLIMER: Are you going to respect me in the morning, when I embrace your party line?”

    Did he really say that? At least he’s got a sense of humour!

  4. #4 Stu
    November 12, 2009

    Lank, any sensible sceptic who has been following developments since H&E was released will be putting as much distance between themselves and Plimer as possible.

    Deniers still love ‘im though, oh yes they do.

  5. #5 Chris O'Neill
    November 12, 2009

    You’re letting Plimer down, Lank. You forgot to point out that volcanoes emit more CO2 than fossil fuel burning.

  6. #6 Lank
    November 12, 2009

    Chris O’Neil – I suppose that you know exactly how much CO2 the many thousands of active unexplored undersea volcanoes emit into seawater. I’m sure you will give us your very qualified opinion.

  7. #7 WotWot
    November 13, 2009

    I suppose that you know exactly how much CO2 the many thousands of active unexplored undersea volcanoes emit into seawater. I’m sure you will give us your very qualified opinion.

    The clear implication being that we just don’t know how much volcanogenic CO2 is being produced. Okay. But if we don’t know, then how can Plimer claim without any doubt that volcanogenic CO2 is responsible?

    I’m sure you will give your opinion.

  8. #8 Stu
    November 13, 2009

    Yep Lank, and each one of them has increased its CO2 output just at human output was ramping up. Remarkable coincidence. Occam’s razor and all that.

    Beyond simple common sense, there is of course isotopic analysis that says it’s us what done it. Not to mention that you’d think the US Geological Survey would know what they’re talking about: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/2007/07_02_15.html

    Feel free to dismiss that evidence out of hand if you wish though. It wont make you right.

  9. #9 Bernard J.
    November 13, 2009

    I’m starting to wonder if Monbiot’s failing in the issue of debating Plimer was not so much in putting a condition on the debate and giving Plimer an out, but in not saying from the outset that it would be inappropriate for him as a journalist to debate a geologist, and would Plimer instead consider debating a scientist of Monbiot’s choosing on the matter of climate change?

    In this way, Monbiot could have said to Plimer, “If I organise a debate between you and [Hansen, Schmidt, Solomon, Brooks (very easy to do!), any number of others] and arrange for international coverage, will you accept? If not, why not?”

    He could have simply kept offering names to Plimer until Plimer said yes, and then he would either have Plimer facing a growing list of his own refusals, or a pre-eminient scientist in climatology who wouldn’t let Plimer’s howlers pass as if they actually had any substance.

    I’m sure that Monbiot could have persuaded some of the heavy guns to offer their expert opinions as a contrast to Plimer’s own ideology… I would have loved to see Plimer have to refuse, with whatever lame excuse that he could muster, when confronted with any such offers.

    Is it too late for Monbiot to challenge Plimer in this way?

  10. #10 Gaz
    November 13, 2009

    [Hey Lank, here is that reference](http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/2007/07_02_15.html) given by Stu in #8.

  11. #11 Richard McGuire
    November 13, 2009

    Plimer must know what he is talking about. If he didn’t, Adelaide University wouldn’t employ him as a Professor of Geology. Would they ? If Plimer didn’t know what he was talking about, Adelaide University would object to him using his association with the University, to promote himself and his views. Wouldn’t they ?

  12. #12 Lank
    November 13, 2009

    Hey Chris – why don’t you tell us how many active unexplored volcanoes there are and how much CO2 they put out? If you don’t know and cant find anyone that does then why regard them as insignificant. Only a tiny percentage of the many undersea active volcanoes have been sampled.

  13. #13 Stu
    November 13, 2009

    Probably too late Bernard, but why not suggest it to Monbiot or directly to any scientists of your choosing anyway? Throw in some of the crowing comments at the Independent/Spectator as proof that people are actually paying attention to and even lauding Plimer’s work.

  14. #14 Stu
    November 13, 2009

    Quick question Lank, please answer. If volcanoes are the cause of the recent rise in CO2,

    a) why is there no hint of anything similar happening in the ice core record?

    b) why have undersea volcanoes woken up since the industrial revolution?

    c) why does isotopic analysis show the increase to be organic (i.e. burnt fossil fuels), not volcanic, in origin?

  15. #15 Jimmy Nightingale
    November 13, 2009

    Re #6.

    I think the USGS would have a pretty good idea of all that. They suggest that volcanic CO2 emissions are less than 1 percent of anthropogenic emissions.


    For the unknown undersea volcanoes to make up all that extra CO2, there would have to be a hell of a lot of them. And they would have had to have been very active to make up more than one hundred times the CO2 emissions of the known volcanoes. Then you would need to take off the cooling effect from the sulfur aerosols.


    In a nutshell, Plimer has no idea.

  16. #16 Fran Barlow
    November 13, 2009

    Jimmy N@17 said:

    Then you would need to take off the cooling effect from the sulfur aerosols/blockquote>

    Not to mention the measurable impact on seawater composition associated with these releases.

  17. #17 el gordo
    November 13, 2009

    Let’s leave the scientists out of the debate. Picture two journalists, both strident in their particular beliefs, confronting each other but restrained by a moderator.

    With a mass viewing audience of millions – Monbiot versus Bolt will make the science more understandable to the person in the street.

  18. #18 cce
    November 13, 2009

    Another reason we know the CO2 isn’t coming from volcanoes is because atmospheric oxygen is decreasing. i.e. from combustion.

  19. #19 Lank
    November 13, 2009

    Gaz – from your link…’The changes in global CO2 concentration during the past 600,000 years have mimicked the changes in global temperature. And, after all, volcanoes are awesome natural forces that release lots of carbon dioxide (CO2) right? Could volcanoes be a significant global-warming villain?”

    Of course they could. CO2 emitted from underwater volcanoes passes through a water column often over 4km (the average ocean depth). The CO2 is absorbed into the colder deep ocean waters and only released with changes of water temperature/pressure. To suggest that it is released directly into the atmosphere is crazy. As global temperatures rise, and surface water temperature increases, this dissolved CO2 is gradually released into the atmosphere.

    The process of this CO2 reaching the atmosphere may take hundreds of years hence the lag of increasing CO2 concentration after rising temperature as shown in the ice core records.

  20. #20 Mark.Byrne@grad.com
    November 13, 2009


    I’ll just point out one problem (of many), where is our anthropogenic burnt CO2 going?

  21. #21 Mark Byrne
    November 13, 2009

    Ratel, [That article](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/11/plimer_calls_his_critics_rent-.php#comment-2070808) was very informative, I had no idea plimer was making hundreds of thousands from his mining interests.

    Plimer was [asked on Stateline](http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/sa/content/2006/s2547227.htm) (local ABC TV):

    >IAN HENSCHKE: We’ve heard people talk like this before and the green groups say, “Well, they’re paid for by mining companies and coal lobbies and various other groups.” Are you being paid by anyone to say this?

    [Plimers answer](http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/sa/content/2006/s2547227.htm) was either decietfully evasive or totally misleading.

  22. #22 Mark Byrne
    November 13, 2009

    Ian Plimer’s [answer](http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/sa/content/2006/s2547227.htm):
    >I’m being paid by the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Government also pays some of my salary. As you would gather, my views are somewhat contrary to the South Australian Government’s view. And I see, that’s what a university’s about. But the rabid environmentalists have grasped onto this as a new religion. And they have their holy book, which is the IPCC books, which they haven’t read, but most religious people haven’t read the holy books anyway. They have their guru or their leader, which is Gore, and they blindly follow this without reasoning, without questioning. The basis of science is to question, it’s to be skeptical, it is to abandon your favourite theory and try to actually build something that’s a bit more coherent – and that they don’t do. And I guess the most important point is, and the purpose of this book is to say that the science is not settled. Nature is very, very savage, drives very rapid climate changes, drives them very hard. We humans have adapted to live in this, and to make major structural charges to society while we’ve got such division in science, I think is folly.

  23. #23 Bernard J.
    November 13, 2009


    You’ve really shot yourself in the foot, matey.

    As [Fran points out](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/11/plimer_calls_his_critics_rent-.php#comment-2071128), if there were any significant undersea sources of CO2 beyond the submarine volcanoes that we are able to account for, we’d observe their emissions’ signatures in the chemistry of the oceans’ waters.

    And [cce noted](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/11/plimer_calls_his_critics_rent-.php#comment-2071128) that the depletion of atmospheric oxygen reflects the anthropogenic emissions of CO2.

    [Stu reminded](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/11/plimer_calls_his_critics_rent-.php#comment-2071093) you that there is no ice record of magic undersea volcanoes, that there is a mysterious increase of atmospheric CO2 correlating with the beginning of industrialisation, and that the isotopic signature reflects that of fossil fuels, rather than of mantle sources.

    Oo, and [Mark Byrne points out](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/11/plimer_calls_his_critics_rent-.php#comment-2071211) that the human emissions must be going somewhere too…

    So, with all that in mind, can you please construct a succinct rebuttal of each of the above points, and explain why humans are not responsible for the observed increase in atmospheric CO2 over the several centuries?

  24. #24 bruced
    November 13, 2009

    Luke, whilst it is part of science to float hypotheses such as “CO2 is produced by sub-sea volcanoes”, science also requires that evidence and data be produced to support the idea. This requires thinking about the consequences of such an event and looking for data to support that consequence. For example, emitting CO2 at the bottom of a water column would cause a pH rise from bottom to top (ie more acid where the dissolved CO2 is highest). Other evidence might be swarms of earthquakes related to magma movement into these volcanoes. Then sub-sea volcanoes can produce copious pumice at the surface. Then there is the carbon isotopic evidence as mantle CO2 has a quite different signature from CO2 produced by burning organic carbon. So lots of opportunities to research and present evidence for the hypothesis. But Plimer puts forward no evidence & no data which indicates that it is not a hypothesis but rather assertion. And an assertion repeated whilst ignoring calls for the evidence is pretty weird. It always strikes me that the game Plimer plays is following the path of one Joseph Goebbels who said ““If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Don’t be sucked into believing nonsense Luke.

  25. #25 Marion Delgado
    November 13, 2009

    In fairness to Plimer, the “other Ian” still has people attacking my review on Amazon … still! Wishart makes Plimer look like a rocket scientist.

  26. #26 el gordo
    November 13, 2009

    Wishart has admitted to being only a journalist, we are talking apples and pears.

  27. #27 silkworm
    November 13, 2009

    Picture two journalists, both strident in their particular beliefs, confronting each other but restrained by a moderator.

    With a mass viewing audience of millions – Monbiot versus Bolt will make the science more understandable to the person in the street.

    Great idea. I suggest Bolt himself as the moderator. His objectivity and fairness is known to all.

  28. #28 Marion Delgado
    November 13, 2009

    Bernard J:

    Gavin Schmidt, for instance, has pretty much sworn off public debates, because they shed more heat than light. The one involving him, Richard Sommerville, Brenda Ekwurzel, Lindzen, the late Michael Crichton, and Phillip Stott a couple of years ago, for instance, really let Crichton shine, because he understood that he was able to say way more than could be debunked over the course of a debate.

    As far as I know, one of the points of forensics training is being able to “win” with either side of a proposition. It’s likely you’d have a hard time finding a climate-related scientist who can “win” a debate, or even one interested in one.

  29. #29 ScaredAmoeba
    November 13, 2009

    A comment about Plimer, not really new, but I googled a partial transcript and it seems to have been missed by most.

    From ABC Perth 27 February, 2009

    @ 9.35

    Plimer: ‘..,now there are very very large numbers of papers contrary to this popular view and they don’t even get acknowledged in the IPCC reports. In this latest book of mine, Heaven and Earth, which is coming out in about six week’s time, I have 2311 scientific references in that book which are contrary to the popular view. You cannot argue there are hundreds or thousands of scientific papers that support this view, because there are hundreds or thousands of papers that are contrary to that view. It is just that science is absolutely and totally ignored. That I find is a very dangerous comment’

    A little off-topic, but it shows that Plimer did make the bogus claim that his references were scientific.


    Ian Enting [July 24th, 2009 at 11.35] heard a different interview which apparently referred to ‘2311 peer-reviewed papers’:

  30. #30 Jeremy
    November 13, 2009

    Where’s Lank?

    Have you guys scared him off? I wanted to see his answers to the questions he has been asked here.

    Is he MIA?

  31. #31 Scott A. Mandia
    November 13, 2009

    Tamino at Open Mind has quantified the effect of Mt. Pinatubo and a few supervolcanoes on CO2 concentrations. They do not even come close to human emissions.



  32. #32 Richard McGuire
    November 13, 2009

    Lank might be MIA but the likes of Ian Plimer and Bob Carter aren’t going anywhere. Not while they can tout their associations with Adelaide and James Cook University. This debate is about science right ? There is only one correct answer, not two or half a dozen. Imagine if Plimer were promoting a quack cure for cancer or that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS or that smoking is actually good for your health. Do any of you think Adelaide University would sit passively on the sidelines. Joe citizen and gormless journalists are never likely to challenge a university professor. Should not the university who employs Plimer not be asking how their professor publishes a graph in Heaven and Earth that was deemed not credible enough to feature in the Great Global Warming Swindle ? Likewise with Plimers claims about volcanoes and CO2 emissions. Remember this is a debate about science not philosophy. The Lanks of this world would not exist were it not for the Plimers and Carters of this world and the universities that unwittingly lend credibility to their junk science.

  33. #33 el gordo
    November 13, 2009


    Very amusing, but I was thinking someone like Jonathan Holmes as a moderator.

  34. #34 Dan Olner
    November 13, 2009

    Bernard J: I asked Monbiot, he got back to me very swiftly saying –

    “Plimer has debated scientists (eg Barry Brooks in Australia), and uses the Gish Gallop to devastating effect. Just as Crichton did in debating Schmidt etc. Scientists are actually at a particular disadvantage, because they can’t help responding to the scientific howlers people like Plimer make, which means that (because it takes 100 times longer to debunk the howler than to make it) the Plimers can keep landing punch after punch.

    Best wishes, George”

    Personally, I think: why not just cut everything else out and just nail him down to that one insane claim about volcanoes and CO2, as Stu suggests? Surely that’s possible? If someone can’t get something so basic right, why should they be trusted on anything else?

  35. #36 guthrie
    November 13, 2009

    I feel a letter to the editor coming on…

  36. #37 Hal9000
    November 13, 2009

    Thanks for that last link, ScaredAmoeba. The most polite demolition I’ve ever seen. Plimer has no shame.

  37. #38 sod
    November 13, 2009

    Personally, I think: why not just cut everything else out and just nail him down to that one insane claim about volcanoes and CO2, as Stu suggests? Surely that’s possible?

    i don t think that this would work. it is a massive disadvantage, when you are trying to be precise and correct and scientific, while the other side is simply inventing stuff.

    let us not forget, that Plimer’s first claim was, that [“One volcanic cough can do this in a day”](http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/do-you-believe-ian-plimer/). while you try to disprove this, he is already moving to subsea volcanoes and cosmic rays…

  38. #39 Bernard J.
    November 13, 2009

    Marion and Dan.

    Ah yes, the Gish Gallop. That is certainly a problem in this context.

    Perhaps this then indicates that the problem isn’t so much that the science can’t be communicated, but that it can’t be communicated in a random and ad hoc fashion where unsubstantiated drivel has the opportunity to pass without appropriate scrutiny.

    Perhaps what is required is a more structured type of discussion, where each proponent is allowed to present a priori a summary of a restricted number of points that they believe encapsulates their argument. During a face-to-face involvement they should be required to defend their arguments with primary evidence and peer-reviewed work, and to respond to any rebuttals and only to rebuttals.

    Heck, I’ve just realised that I’m starting to describe a trial in Western law! Is this what it would take to keep gallopers such as Plimer to refrain from obfuscation?! Surely not.

    The problem is, the more I think of it the more I find myself imagining a scenario where something like a trial might occur…

    I don’t know… Do we need to have specific questions put to both proponents – such as, for example, “is there a greenhouse effect?”, “is CO2 a greenhouse gas?”, “are humans responsible for the increase in atmospheric CO2 over the last several centuries?”, “is the mean global temperature increasing?”, “who coined the term ‘climate change’, and why?” – with a structured response involving each proponent’s best evidence? How should misinterpretations, whether unintended or deliberate, be addressesed – immediately, or by subsequent perusal?

    It seems that now more than ever the divide between understanding and ignorance is apparent, and that the day-to-day workings of scientific understanding are too complex, or simply too ideologically confronting, for a large proportion of lay people. It is apparent also that scientific communication, as it is currently practised, is failing in its task in this matter, and that current non-scientific methods for communication are woefully inadequate for the task as well.

    If the inconsistencies in the Denialists’ ideologies are to be picked apart under the glaring light of scientific scrutiny once-and-for-all, for all of the world to understand, perhaps a new approach is required.

    The travails of Darwinism and evolution in the face of (faith-based) ideology and ignorance of the science is probably the best prior example of how science has failed to communicate the simple realities of a discipline. Ironically, the judicial system was at times brought into this arena too – I can hardly believe that it’s just gone four years already since the [Dover decision](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District)! – but the issue of global warming seems to require something else again.

    That is, at least, if Gish galloping and other hit-and-run obfuscation techniques are to be removed from a serious consideration of the science.

    The alternative seems to be to live in a state of semi-suspended animation, with a series of “Great Global Warming Swindles”, “Great Global Warming Swindle Swindles” and so on continuing to confuse those who do not have the education to interpret the science themselves, until it’s all just too late.

    I suspect that future generations will not thank us for that: somehow “oops” just doesn’t seem to cut it as an answer as to why we couldn’t sort out our shit a little better.

    On this I do not think that I, as one person, have a workable answer myself, although I hope that I can come up with something a little better than “oops” if and when I am called to account for my own efforts to educate. Whatever the final outcome for the world though, more and more I am firming in my belief that whatever we do, it will not have been enough.

    It’s been said many times on Deltoid and elsewhere, but I’ll repeat it again: the Denialati do not need to be right; they do not even need to win. They simply need to confuse the process for a sufficient amount of time in their efforts to achieve their own short-term ideological ends, that the final result is beyond humanity to adequately address.

    Without a profound shift in our willingness to face the facts and to deal with them, we will all end up losing.

  39. #40 dhogaza
    November 13, 2009

    Where’s Lank?

    Have you guys scared him off?

    He probably OD’d on that blue-green algae superfood …

  40. #41 Dan Olner
    November 13, 2009

    Bernard J: great bit of writing there! I agree on the difficulty of the problem, I’m equally unsure of solutions. Probably one of the only approaches is simply to write a lot, talk a lot, counter where possible. The UK has –


    – but they don’t seem to be doing very much (anything?) on the climate science front. I may ask them why, given the gravity of the issue. (Though what you do about e.g. the Telegraph’s science policy, I don’t know.)

    What sort of context would be good for working through answers to some of your questions? I’m in the UK – what could we do here?

    The most disturbing angle is – e.g. from DeepClimate today:


    Deniers claim to believe in the spirit of Galileo, as the above education programme says. Quite what climate scientists have in common with the 17th century Catholic Church, I don’t know – but this appeal to skepticism worries me more than anything else. It sounds so damn reasonable – if one hasn’t e.g. actually looked at the IPCC’s approach to uncertainty.

    Maybe the answer, when debating, is to bypass Gish Galloping altogether and skip to the basics: uncertainty goes two ways, these people only tell you about one. Trends are dead easy: today was warmer than yesterday, does that mean Winter’s not coming? I still hope it’s possible, using such a simple approach, to actually allow people to think for themselves – as the deniers *claim* they want – and to be able to easily spot bullsh*t when they see it. Most AGW anti-science is not difficult to see through for anyone with even a basic grasp of the issues.

    Of course, perhaps after Copenhagen, things will calm down for a bit. Probably not though, eh?

  41. #42 Dan Olner
    November 13, 2009

    Sorry, nother rant: attention has to be consistently drawn to the one-sidedness the denialosphere. Example: Monckton goes on and on about that supposed email to Deming: “we have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”. Google the phrase and there’s about 150,000 results. I’ve glanced through about 200 of them and, of course, they’re all using it as a ‘smoking gun’.

    Imagine the reverse: Gore says he received an email from an anonymous blogger saying “we have to get rid of the hockey stick.” Someone suggests it was McIntyre – Gore merely responds, “you might think that – I couldn’t possibly comment.”

    The denialosphere would go into meltdown. Where’s the email! Give us proof! Lies! Slander! With the reverse, I’ve yet to find anyone talking about it who even wonders, ‘is that true? If so, what did the rest of the email say? Who was is really from?’

    This kind of thing clearly illustrates the instinctive, deep political bias in the denialosphere. Maybe political is the wrong word – a deepseated refusal to countenance the idea that AGW is anything but a “MASSIVE LIE.”

    We can’t hope to fight that level of internet insanity, I suppose. But this sort of thing helps illustrate the dynamic behind denial and the role the web plays.

  42. #43 Berbalang
    November 13, 2009

    The quickest and easiest thing to do is to point out the most glaring error the denier is making during the question & answer session. While it won’t change the minds of the true believers who will start trying to rationalize the error, but it will make the undecided start to question what is being said.

    Deniers can’t do the Gish Gallop if they don’t have a leg to stand on.

  43. #44 Dave
    November 13, 2009

    I think there’s something to be said for bringing a flipshart and noting down all the arguments Plimer makes. Then, taking the time to explain why the scattershot rhetorical technique is so dishonest and so weighted against a proper scientific response (that will take too long and doubtless bore the pants off everyone there – all Plimer needs to do is sow dissent, not actually prove anything *right*). Lead off with an accessible introduction to the indisputable basic physics of CO2-induced warming – don’t start off on the back foot and allow Plimer to set the agenda, start with some very very basic and experimentally verified points, then point out which of Plimer’s many points are either in direct contravention with the basic physics or are logically inconsistent/contradictory. Then pick one or two big ones (perhaps with audience participation choosing which are the most convincing) and demolishing them, all the while making sure it is clear that *none* of his arguments have any weight.

    Heh. This is easy from an armchair…

  44. #45 mariwarcwm
    November 13, 2009

    CO2 can only absorb a limited amount of infra-red rays. Like trying to dissolve sugar in water, you get saturation after 200 ppmv (parts per million by volume, in case you are not scientists.)

    We are at 385ppmv at the moment, and rising. If CO2 went to 500ppm there would be very little increase in temperature caused by CO2.

    This is basic physics. CO2 cannot cause runaway warming. The idea was first put about by Baroness Thatcher in order to defeat the miners. You are still falling for it.

  45. #46 Marion Delgado
    November 13, 2009

    By the time I could check out Heaven and Earth from my library, i was already sick of plimer. it’s just the great global warming swindle in print form – and plimer did a worse job than durkin, astonishingly.

  46. #47 Andrew Dodds
    November 13, 2009

    mariwarcwm –

    You know, you are completely correct and just came up with something that all the atmospheric scientists in the world over the past 50 years had overlooked.

    As a prize, you can be first to step out of the capsule for the first manned mission to Venus. After all, solar radiation on venus is – thanks to the highly reflective clouds – the same as on Earth, so the temperature should be the same. Off you go..

  47. #48 Girma
    November 13, 2009


    When is my ban going to end?

    It is very sad just to read the posts but not reply, especially when my camp is attacked without any defender.


    *[Your ban isn’t ending any time soon. I’m sorry that reading the posts without replying saddens you, but I’ve found your replies to be worthless and to detract from the discussion. Why not find somewhere else to comment? Tim]*

  48. #49 Dan Olner
    November 13, 2009

    Monbiot: “Should climate deniers be allowed to speak on the Today programme?”

    Answer: if the interviewer actually prepares for it, yes. What a wasted opportunity.


  49. #50 Dan Olner
    November 13, 2009

    p.s. DenialDepot is doing sterling Blog Science work –


    – and needs our votes (which we can do repeatedly) in order to beat McIntyre and Watts to Science Blog of the Year award.


    DenialDepot’s 3rd place I believe.

  50. #51 dhogaza
    November 13, 2009

    When is my ban going to end?

    Someone doesn’t understand the concept of being banned …

  51. #52 carrot eater
    November 13, 2009

    Seems like mariwarcwm just stumbled across Beer’s law for the first time; I saw him just make the same statement elsewhere, also on a completely unrelated thread.

  52. #53 Marco
    November 13, 2009

    @Carrot eater: I think mariwarcwm has just had Beer’s law in his freshman chemistry class. I’m a bit surprised nobody called Lank out on his attempt to include the “prove it does not exist!”-argument…

  53. #54 Chris O'Neill
    November 13, 2009

    Should not the university who employs Plimer not be asking how their professor publishes a graph in Heaven and Earth that was deemed not credible enough to feature in the Great Global Warming Swindle ?

    Yes, Plimer can get away with a lot more than Durkin because of Plimer’s association with the university. To put a different slant on an old saying, universities are the last refuge of a scoundrel.

  54. #55 DavidCOG
    November 13, 2009

    > Monbiot famously, and understandably, pulled out…

    Monbiot did not “pull out”. His conditions for participating were not met.

    Note that the BBC are doing a bit of fire-fighting over giving Plimer air time – and hiding behind the totally false premise that they need to represent “both sides of the argument”.


  55. #56 Marion Delgado
    November 13, 2009

    trollpoints for the week:

    CO2 can only absorb a limited amount of infra-red rays


    Like trying to dissolve sugar in water, you get saturation after 200 ppmv (parts per million by volume, in case you are not scientists.):


    We are at 385ppmv at the moment, and rising. If CO2 went to 500ppm there would be very little increase in temperature caused by CO2.


    This is basic physics. CO2 cannot cause runaway warming.


    The idea was first put about by Baroness Thatcher in order to defeat the miners. You are still falling for it.


  56. #57 el gordo
    November 13, 2009

    Back to the topic. Everyone knows big volcanic eruptions cause global cooling, because of blanketing, so CO2 is fairly irrelevant in the equation. Particularly as CO2 does not trap in heat.

  57. #58 Charles
    November 13, 2009

    Bernard, you wrote: “It’s been said many times on Deltoid and elsewhere, but I’ll repeat it again: the Denialati do not need to be right; they do not even need to win. They simply need to confuse the process for a sufficient amount of time in their efforts to achieve their own short-term ideological ends, that the final result is beyond humanity to adequately address.”

    And so, when necessary (keeping in mind Gavin S.’s advice), we need to do a reverse Gish Gallop. First, simply emphatically respond “Wrong!” every time a bogus claim is made. I saw David Karoly take down Bob Carter quite effectively with this tactic. This helps keep things get too confused. And then establish epistemological supremacy: who are you willing to believe, all other things being equal, when you need open heart surgery: the up-to-date heart surgeon or the podiatrist who, by the way, hasn’t published or practiced in years. Most important is the reverse GG: go on the offense, launching an unrelenting, rapid fire assault on all the claims made by the denier. Refuse to stop unless the denier wants to focus on a specific point, and even then keep demolishing that specific point in as many ways as possible, as quickly as possible. The point is “no more mr. nice guy” but to do it in as charming a fashion as possible (which Karoly did by smiling broadly at the audience every time he asserted, loudly, “Wrong!”). If others claim that this is an example of contrarian views being ignored, marginalized, or shut out, simply laugh and respond that (a) they have plenty of opportunities, (b) the scientific literature and process welcomes and displays plenty of dissent, and (c) the deniers marginalize themselves by all their silly tactics, and it is they, not the scientists, who have adopted a metaphysical, religious approach to climate change.

    The only way you could have a half-decent debate is with a properly trained debating speaker-of-the-house moderating things. Otherwise, yeah, Gavin has a good point. Avoid debates.

  58. #59 Stu
    November 13, 2009

    El Gordo,

    What’s blanketing?

    Anyway, Plimer’s comment was on the source of CO2, not on the source of climate change. Volcanoes are demonstrably not the cause of the recent rise in CO2 concentration. The upside here is that this claim does not necessarily include climate change at all – it’s simply ‘where does the gas come from?’.

    Plimer has been shown to be wrong on this. You definitely haven’t shown him to be right.

  59. #60 Marion Delgado
    November 13, 2009


    I was replying to a comment, and my only contribution was to put debunking URL links after each quoted line. Therefore, I assume, I was put in moderation, since spammers post only links. Did I mess up by not putting nofollow or something? Or is it just a bad idea to post links-only comments?

  60. #61 luminous beauty
    November 13, 2009

    > Particularly as CO2 does not trap in heat.

    Posted by: el gordo | November 13, 2009 6:26 PM

    Enough with the stupid, OK?

    < http://www.espere.net/Unitedkingdom/water/uk_watexpgreenhouse.htm>

  61. #62 DavidCOG
    November 13, 2009

    Thanks, Stu @ 63.

  62. #63 wilful
    November 13, 2009

    Hey guys, I’d appreciate some support for my review of Heaven and Earth on Amazon… the votes are going well against me…

  63. #64 Chris O'Neill
    November 13, 2009

    el gordo:

    Particularly as CO2 does not trap in heat.

    so CO2 is fairly irrelevant in the equation.

    That’s why Plimer keeps telling us most CO2 emissions come from volcanoes.

  64. #65 Chris O'Neill
    November 13, 2009

    luminous beauty:

    Enough with the stupid, OK?

    Careful, don’t be offensive.

  65. #66 Marion Delgado
    November 13, 2009

    Rent-seeker is a Randite legacy insult. Just as capitalists stole the Landlord’s Game from a Georgean economist woman, assigned it to an intellectual-property-seeking man, and turned the point of it inside out as a (pro-)Monopoly® game, early discussions on the inequity of actual rents – that is, using differential access to land and resources, backed up by state power, as a source of income – were inverted to claim that every attempt to keep commercial enterprises from harming people or defrauding them or degrading the commons was a form of deriving profit from “rents” – meaning regulations, laws or tariffs. The Austrians – as usual – were gaga for the concept.

    Surprisingly, none of them ever had the intellectual integrity to denounce, say, the FCC in the United States going around and enforcing monopoly access to radio frequencies (instead of letting the rough and tumble of the market work itself out) with government violence and threats of confiscature and imprisonment.

    It’s the Humpty-Dumpty quality of the meaning of the term rent-seeker that endeared it to the Randites, since playing definitional games was and is their bread and butter.

  66. #67 silkworm
    November 14, 2009

    Unsuccessful in denying global warming, the denialists have reimaged themselves, and are now denying the greenhouse effect. They are trying to drag everyone back to the nineteenth century.

  67. #68 Nick
    November 14, 2009

    Plimer’s BBC spot makes for extraordinary listening. The relentless errors and the casting of himself as a catalyst of an apparently suppressed “debate”,the slander of Michael Ashley and the pomposity…. The conviction that he and his fellow geologists are carrying the rest of us is pretty stomach-turning. He’s certainly extracting his rent from this issue.

  68. #69 Chris O'Neill
    November 14, 2009

    Rent-seeker is a Randite legacy insult.

    I wonder if another insult will be “elitist”.

  69. #70 silkworm
    November 14, 2009

    I will not confuse photosynthesis with the greenhouse effect.

    I will not confuse photosynthesis with the greenhouse effect.

    I will not confuse photosynthesis with the greenhouse effect.

    I will not …

  70. #71 Tim Lambert
    November 14, 2009

    Marion, if you put more than three links in a comment, it goes into moderation.

    I’ve been off the net for a day, so I’ve only just cleaned up the Girma outbreak.

  71. #72 Dan Olner
    November 14, 2009

    Luminous beauty: great experiment link. Any more like that? I’m trying to compile anything that shows you can test aspects of climate theory yourself. Knowing how to place results, errors and non-results in their correct context – a pithy guide on this would be amazing (& would show why eg watts picking only stories from one end of the tail and shouting “bombshell!” is bad science.

  72. #73 Paul UK
    November 14, 2009

    >”…In previous times people have got wonderful research grants in a war against cancer and they achieved a lot of money for that…”

    Interesting, cancer is real.
    So is global warming.

    A strange comparison to make. Is that a foot I see in his mouth?

  73. #74 Hal9000
    November 14, 2009

    There are three possible explanations for Plimer’s behaviour. Either 1) he is evil, and wants to maximise the impact of climate change for some nasty ulterior motive such as personal aggrandisement, or 2) as per 1), only operating out of some altruistic ulterior motive or 3) he is a complete fool, unable to recognise evidence even when forced upon him. The more I read and hear of the man, the more I’m moving toward 1). Although, as the multi-decade existence of Stalinism as a governance model shows, there isn’t necessarily much to differentiate 1) from 2).

  74. #75 Louis Hissink
    November 14, 2009

    Seems none of you here are scientists, let alone familiar with the rigours demanded by the scientific method.

    While not idiot savants, to whom we might label Andrew Glickson as, morons seem more accurate a term.

    None of you would pass Physics 101, Chem 101, let alone Geol 101.

  75. #76 bi -- IJI
    November 14, 2009

    Louis Hissink:

    > morons seem more accurate a term.

    Ooh, feel the scientific rigour in this ‘skeptical’ scientific insult.

  76. #77 Ken Fabos
    November 14, 2009

    I wonder if, for people like Plimer, having wealth is the best form of insurance if he turns out to be wrong. Wealth is the best form of ‘adaptation’ for climate change and selling books and lectures is his best and surest way to acquire that wealth.
    Having begun with strong disbelief in climate change there is no personal incentive to actually get seriously educated on the real scientific basis for AGW; from that starting point all can be framed as debate that’s about perceptions, beliefs and politics and nothing to do with the physical reality of what’s happening to our climate.
    I don’t know about one on one debates – superior debating skills seem essential prerequisites there – but in the written media I’ve suggested, and continue to suggest, that credentialed scientists in particular write in response to every bit of denialist BS that gets published. Every institution that has climate and climate change as it’s primary subject and perhaps even more so, those that work in related fields, that are intrinsic to climate science but don’t work directly – ie paid for doing climate research – should make it part of their routine to write corrections and responses to articles in the mainstream media – and do so as officially as possible.
    So where are the Volcanologists and seismologists when Plimer says it’s all volcanic CO2? Where are the chemists and physicists who study atmospheric gases, or marine chemistry or whatever? They ought to be flooding the letterboxes with rebuttals. If they can’t debate well they ought to at least be able to write. The future of our planet is at stake and making such an effort looks essential.

  77. #78 Janet Akerman
    November 14, 2009

    Shorter Louis Hissink:

    If you are dumber than me you are a moron, if you are smarter than me you are an idiot savant. Either way, I passed Geology and that makes me tops: naanaa na naanaa!

  78. #79 Janet Akerman
    November 14, 2009

    Another shorter Louis Hissink:

    When Plimer lies about his sources, fails to answer simple questions about his book, falsely accuses other of being rent seekers while being evasive with the public about his mining interest, it is all OK.

    I will demonstrate why this is OK for Plimer, here goes:

    >If you are dumber than me you are a moron, if you are smarter than me you are an idiot savant. Either way, I passed Geology and that makes me tops. And Plimer is a geologist which makes him tops, and the IPCC ignore all the science.

  79. #80 zoot
    November 14, 2009

    That would be Louis, “Nobody studied the sky before the telescope was invented”, Hissink would it?

  80. #81 Nick
    November 14, 2009

    Perhaps,Louis,Plimer’s been broken by ‘the rigours demanded by the scientific method’,which would explain his sloppy useless book…you’d be with Ian in feeling an oblivious world doesn’t deserve the selfless nobility and foresight of the geologist and miner,eh?

  81. #82 Dave
    November 14, 2009

    That would be Louis, “I’m not particularly convinced by evolution”, Hissink would it?

  82. #83 bi -- IJI
    November 14, 2009


    Or, Louis “global warming is Margaret Thatcher’s plot to kill the coal mines” Hissink. Or Louis “global warming is false because the Bible blah blah blah” Hissink.

    But saying that will be too ad hominem. The proper scientific way to rebut Hissink is to do what he does, i.e. simply call him an idiot. QED!

  83. #84 Bernard J.
    November 14, 2009

    That would also be the [Louis Hissink](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/12/650_international_scientists_e.php) of the [electric universe](http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/003062.html) bent.

    When Hissink says:

    None of you would pass Physics 101, Chem 101, let alone Geol 101.

    one should immediately turn the gain of one’s irony-o-meter down to zero lest its needle twist itself into a pretzel attempting to register the content of Hissink’s comments…

    For those new to Hissink, follow the links above – enough said.

  84. #85 Michael
    November 14, 2009

    The demise of the Marohasy blog sees Louis looking for fresh pastures on which to deposit his partly-digested ruminations.

  85. #86 TrueSceptic
    November 14, 2009

    67 silkworm,

    “now denying the greenhouse effect”? Some of them have always done that. Some have invented a whole Nu Fizix to go along with it. The Marohasy Bog has been a good place for that stuff but Jen’s off wandering and it’s all gone quiet.

  86. #87 TrueSceptic
    November 14, 2009

    69 Chris,

    You’re too late 😉 Already in use. Take the old “ivory tower”, add some NWO and “political” research grants and there you have it.

  87. #88 zoot
    November 14, 2009

    bi — IJI @83,
    I just visited [Louis’ blog](http://geoplasma.spaces.live.com/blog/) and I don’t think we should call him an idiot.

    The correct, scientific term is “barking mad”.

  88. #89 TrueSceptic
    November 14, 2009

    92 Dan,

    (Devil’s Advocate) But that’s 100% CO2! Nothing like the minute 0.038% in the real atmosphere!

  89. #90 TrueSceptic
    November 14, 2009

    74 HAL9000,

    You missed “highly delusional”, but when books can be sold, sheer avarice must play a part too.

  90. #91 Lionel A Smith
    November 14, 2009

    Dan #49

    I followed your Monbiot link (thanks) and in turn the one there to that BBC Today with Justin Webb. I got as far as Plimer saying, ‘…CO2 is plant food’ and realised from whom I had heard this script before, yes our ol’ friend Christopher Walter (aka Monckton of Brenchley). At that point I lost interest as I have seen all to clearly how well received the sayings of these goons has been received in certain North American quarters where cognitive dissonance appears to be rampant.

    Michael #85
    Looks like Hissink has passed for entry into

    Room 101.

    [BBC Room 101](http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A519482)

  91. #92 Jeremy C
    November 14, 2009

    From # 41

    “I’ve been off the net for a day, so I’ve only just cleaned up the *Girma outbreak*”

    Thats wonderful.

    How about we refer to any comedy lines/trolling etc from deniers et al such as Louis’s recent pre christmas gifts as…. “Girma Outbreaks”. If only to make me laugh.

  92. #93 TrueSceptic
    November 14, 2009

    88 zoot,

    Some choice examples.

    But the debate isn’t about science but politics and the use of scientism to force us into an eco-totalitarian socialist society.

    What is of real concern is the inability of the conservative commentators to recognise the deft hand of the Fabian political movement behind the Climate Change Scare – and that is the whole point of the Fabian deception – to gull us into accepting their totalitarian utopia dressed up as a cllimate emergency and hiding their real intentions among the small print as recently discovered in the US.

  93. #94 TrueSceptic
    November 14, 2009

    41 Jeremy,

    But why does Girma want to post here? To help us poor deluded souls out of our ignorance?

    Surely there’s lots of other places where his statistical…err…techniques will be appreciated? Surely he doesn’t need one of use to tell him about them?

    Does anyone know if “Girma” has a soft “G”? If so, we could have The Girma Theory of whatever, like the Germ Theory of Disease.

  94. #95 guthrie
    November 14, 2009

    So now it is the Fabians that are out to get us all? That is one of the most unlikely conspiracy theories I’ve heard in a long time.

  95. #96 Jeremy C
    November 14, 2009

    Would that be Fabians armed with guns or with dinner parties coupled with rat-a-tat repartee?

    Though I have been told that at Sydney Fabian Society meetings when Paul Keating turns up things can get loud.

  96. #97 el gordo
    November 14, 2009

    The Fabians appear to be Labor in green wrap, which is perfectly natural, but in reality I believe there is division over global warming.

  97. #98 Joel Shore
    November 14, 2009

    I am waiting for the day when Plimer reveals that this has been all a big hoax to see how ridiculous he could make his arguments and still get “AGW skeptics” to tout his book.

    Of course, I am also still waiting for Gerlich and Tscheuschner to reveal that their paper was all a hoax to see what nonsense they could get published in an actual physics journal!

  98. #99 el gordo
    November 15, 2009

    Jeremy C

    Perhaps your Fabian friends could let us know if Keating is with the government on the CPRS? My search has turned up a blank.

  99. #100 Marion Delgado
    November 15, 2009


    Thanks for the heads-up. More than three is easy to remember. I often tell people, don’t reply on your own, link to the already available response. I should add, but don’t look like a link spammer.

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