Saturday, August 01, 2009

Fine Weather We're Having

It's said that people are divided into three groups: those that can count and those that can't.

Similarly, when it comes to climate change, people seem to fall into one of three categories: the evangelists, who believe that man made climate change will do hard-to-imagine harm; the atheists who deny that mankind's activities have any significant impact on our climate; and the agnostics who can't make up their minds, despite all the evidence.

I'm an agnostic.

However, today I'd like to introduce an atheist, the Australian Professor Ian Plimer, who has just written Heaven And Earth: Global Warming - The Missing Science.

We've all heard to a greater or lesser extent about why man is causing global warming. Here' is an extract from The Spectator's review of Professor Plimer's book.

What Heaven And Earth sets out to do is restore a sense of scientific perspective to a debate which has been hijacked by ‘politicians, environmental activists and opportunists’. It points out, for example, that polar ice has been present on earth for less than 20 per cent of geological time; that extinctions of life are normal; that climate changes are cyclical and random; that the CO2 in the atmosphere — to which human activity contributes the tiniest fraction — is only 0.001 per cent of the total CO2 held in the oceans, surface rocks, air, soils and life; that CO2 is not a pollutant but a plant food; that the earth’s warmer periods — such as when the Romans grew grapes and citrus trees as far north as Hadrian’s Wall — were times of wealth and plenty.

In September, Colleen and I are off for a week's peace and quiet somewhere. I've put Heaven and Earth on my reading list for that week, together with an overdue read of the IPCC reports. (I'll have to squeeze in something lighter as well - perhaps re-reading of one of PG Wodehouse's Jeeves books).

Maybe, just maybe, I'll be converted. One way or the other.


robwallace said...

e to have a read myself and see if it illuminates at all. I guess I'm in your agnostic column right now.

Sean Haffey said...

Yes, you have to distinguish between "agnostic" and "sitting on the fence". The IPCC reports come to well over a thousand pages, so that's a lot of reading!

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Craig said...

I'll skip the detail, but the spectator quote makes Al Gore look like he should have a PhD in climate science by comparison.

[For anyone in doubt, he most certainly should not]

Anonymous said...

Did you ever read the book? Just remember that Plimer works on the biggest single ore body in the world, the Olympic Dam mine, and is big pals with the mining giants like BHP who operate there and whose are interested to see no action on climate change as they feel it will affect their business.

I guess I'm saying Plimer has been bought out. And he's not an atmospheric climate scientist. His book was panned by most of the science journalists here and he was taken apart by your George Monbiot too!

Cheers, Nick (Car)