Jane Fraser, columnist in The Australian , writes a column based on “facts” she got from a chain email:
Back to Plimer. He says he knows how disheartening it is to realise all your savings on carbon emissions have been eaten up by natural disasters. You’ve suffered the inconvenience and expense of driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up ’til midnight to finish your kids’ “The Green Revolution” science project, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet, selling your speedboat, holidaying at home instead of abroad, replacing all those light globes that cost you 50c with ones that set you back $10 . . .
Well, he says, it took just four days to flush all these good works down the drain. In those four days the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland spewed enough volcanic ash to negate every single effort you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions.
This is not true. Fred Jourdan (Prof. of Applied Geology, Curtin University of Technology) states:
The eruption in Iceland emitted a fairly small amount of CO2. In fact most recent estimates show that the flights that were grounded by the eruption would have emitted about twice as much CO2 as the volcano itself.
Fraser continues with:
Plimer adds he doesn’t want to rain on our parade too much (not half!), but he should mention that when Mt Pinatubo erupted in The Philippines in 1991, it threw out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in its entire time on earth.
This is wrong by a factor of 30,000. Each year humans emit 700 times as much as Pinatubo did.
I agree with most of what Plimer says. It makes sense to me.
Not only is it the case that the stuff about volcanoes that Fraser repeats is untrue, Plimer didn’t say it. While Plimer has said things about volcanic emissions that are stupidly wrong, he didn’t write the email that Fraser is quoting. As often happens with chain emails, Plimer’s name got added to the original version of the email at some stage. Factcheck.org debunked an earlier version back in June 2010 when it looked like this:
I know, I know …. (have a group hug) … it’s very
disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission
savings you have accomplished while suffering the
inconvenience and expense of driving Prius hybrids,
buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up til midnight to
finish your kid’s “The Green Revolution” science
project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning
supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper,
putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling
your SUV and speedboat, going on vacation to a city park
instead of Yosemite, nearly getting hit every day on
your bicycle, replacing all of your $1 light bulbs with
$10 light bulbs … well, all of those things you have
done have all gone down the tubes in just the past week.
The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere in
the past week has totally erased every single effort you
have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon.
Fraser does disagree with what she thought Plimer said on one point:
I have one bone to pick with him, however. He adds to his list of moans and groans — and these have absolutely nothing to do with global warming — that he is always in danger of being hit by a car or a bus. …
Me, I worry about being knocked over by cyclists. I know they’re doing their bit for the environment (ha!) but are so dangerous, especially when they’re whizzing along on the pavement and you can’t hear them coming. Blow them all!
I don’t have numbers for Sydney, but in London from 2001 to 2005 there were 534 pedestrians killed by motor vehicles and just one by a cyclist. It’s likely more people were killed by being struck by lightning than being struck by cyclists.
Fraser also has this argument against global warming:
I am not a fan of the idea of global warming, especially after this Sydney winter. It has been the coldest I can remember
Fortunately it should be easy to get Fraser to correct her errors. Since she seems to believe anything that gets sent to her in an email, I’ll just send her an email.
Hat tip: Scribe