Category Archives: Climate

More reactions to the SMH piece

Today I’ve seen a few more interesting comments on the Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece by Paul Sheehan that I wrote about yesterday.

There is a comment at the Pure Poison thread that I already linked to that is worth highlighting. Macondo says

We don’t have to read Plimer’s book; Sheehan’s piece is not a book review, it’s just another piece of anti-GW polemic, using Plimer’s name in an egregiously exaggerated way to dazzle the readers with science and celebrity. It’s OK to size up his piece on its own merits or lack of them.

Firstly, take away all the rhetorical devices and persuasive techniques (that I learnt how to analyse in Form 6 decades ago) and what is left? Virtually nothing. Mostly contentious – to say the least – ’science’ quotes from Plimer, and even that is mostly polemical, as you would expect from this attack-dog geologist who had a reasonably well known triumph over easy-target creationists not that long ago (geologically speaking).

and much more, I recommend going over and reading the whole comment here.

There is an excellent post on the column at Bouphonia as well, I like this quote in particular which is in response to Sheehan listing off the number of pages, references etc. in Plimer’s book,

Of course, if we were to compile all the words, pages, and footnotes that suggest that Plimer is wrong, they’d dwarf his magnum opus like an elephant dwarfs a dust mite. Which just goes to show you that sheer bulk is not always the best way to gauge the accuracy of scientific papers. It just so happens that Plimer’s book is voluminous and heavily footnoted because it’s correct, while the myriad papers reflecting the consensus view are voluminous and heavily footnoted because they’re the product of conformity. That’s the kind of detail you’re liable to miss unless you have a science-savvy guide like Sheehan.

Once again I suggest following the link to read the whole thing.

Finally, while numerous global warming denial sites are getting excited by Sheehan’s conversion, as if he is some great arbiter of scientific truth, it seems perhaps that he hasn’t always been that great at assessing science anyway as Tim Lambert points out in this comments thread at Deltoid.

Geological Timescales and the Effects of Climate Change

There is an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald in which Paul Sheehan is impressed by Ian Plimer’s new book which suggests that we don’t have to worry about global warming. I’ve looked at some of Plimer’s arguments before and wasn’t terribly impressed. I was going to look at the SMH piece in more detail but found another blog which had already said much of what I had in mind – so I recommend going to check out The Michael Duffy Files. There is more at Pure Poison, Floating Life and the Courier Mail (from Graham Readfearn). Also Barry Brook has dealt with similar arguments from Plimer before at Brave New Climate – here and here.

I’ll just focus on a couple of issues, which do overlap somewhat with my earlier posts. I’ll tend to use points raised in the article as a jumping off point for general musings, rather than a detailed rebuttal since I haven’t read the book that Sheehan is discussing. Even so, we can still assess whether the issues discussed in the article lead to the conclusion that there is no need to worry about climate change.

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From Big Bang to Us – Made Easy

The title refers to an excellent series of you tube videos by potholer54 (a science journalist based here in Australia), which gives a concise account on what science tells us about the history of the universe, from the Big Bang, to the formation of the Earth, to the origins of life, to the origins of humans. The videos are really well done, and do an excellent job of conveying not just what we know about these topics, but also how we know it.

Below is part 1.

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I came across this via another series by potholer54 which is on the science of climate change which was featured in this post at Greenfyre’s.

The Now Show

The Now Show is back on, in fact it has been for a while but I only just noticed. It’s a BBC radio comedy that looks at current affairs, I highly recommend it. The latest episode is available to listen to on the website. This week’s episode includes Marcus Brigstocke’s comments on the Ofcom response to the complaint against The Great Global Warming Swindle. The first time I listened to the Now Show was for Brigstocke’s comments on TGGWS when it originally aired, and also on the film maker’s charming emails. Of course this is also a good time to remember the weirdness of the ABC’s forum on the program being hijacked by the CEC to push their conspiracy theories as can be seen on You Tube

Festival of Ideas: Recommended Listening

Radio Adelaide have started broadcasting recordings of sessions from the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, and many are now available for download, all of the details are here.

I would like to make some recommendations based on session I attended, or have downloaded and listened to. I will update this as I listen to more of them, though I don’t expect to get through all of them, so don’t read anything into the absence of a session from my list. All broadcasts are on 101.5 FM in Adelaide. Also, all sessions are available on cd from Radio Adelaide. All downloads are in mp3 format.

Updated 12/7

  • High and Dry: John Howard, Climate Change and the Selling of Australia’s future with Guy Pearse. A compelling account of the Howard government’s failure on the issue of climate change from a Liberal party insider. To be broadcast on Wednesday July 18 at 12 noon, or download it (17.0MB).
  • Drought Proofing Australia: Heroic Fantasies and Sobering Realities with Peter Cullen. An account of Australia’s water situation from a top expert who is also an excellent speaker who tells it straight. Download it (15.9MB).
  • The Joy MacLennan Oration – Beyond the Long Age of Forgetting with Simon Longstaff. I managed to completely overlook this one on the weekend so I’m glad it was available for download. Longstaff very eloquently pinpoints the substitution of institutional tradition for ethical thinking as a key problem in our society. Download it (16.6MB).
  • Trading places with John Connell, John Buchanan, Tim Harcourt, Colleen Ryan. This one didn’t leap out at me, in fact I wasn’t entirely clear on what it would be about, but it turned out to be probably my favourite group session which I attended. The reason is that I felt that the speakers all has something different to contribute, but it all fit in well with the overall topic, which was essentially the future of trade. Download it (29.3MB).
  • What to Eat: Personal Responsibility vs Social Responsibility with Marion Nestle. An excellent speaker on a topic which effects us all on a daily basis, giving the insight that comes with being at the forefront of the fight for good nutrition in the USA (listen for how she “hurt sugar’s feelings”). Very entertaining and informative. Download it. (15.8MB)
  • Lifting the lid on whistle-blowing with Julian Morrow, Guy Pearse, Norman Swan, Marian Wilkinson, Paul Chadwick (PC). This one was full and I couldn’t get in but now I’ve had a chance to listen to it. A fascinating, and important topic with an impressive and diverse group of speakers … I probably should have realised that it would be popular. Download it. (31.8MB)
  • Mumbo-Jumbo, Snake Oil and Other Delusions with Francis Wheen. I plan to soon write a post about some of the ideas in this one, which is an amusing summary of the main ideas of the speakers latest book about the resurgence of superstition at the expense of critical thinking. Download it. (16.6MB)
  • Survival of the Fittest, Survival of the Richest or Survival of the Thinnest with Norman Swan. The ABC’s medical expert gives an interesting perspective on the factors affecting life expectancy. This has already been broadcast, so if you want to hear it you have to download it. (16.6MB)
  • Troubling times: Dissent and democracy in Australia with Sarah Maddison. Details the approach of the Howard government to dealing with dissent and the implications for democracy. Recommended for anyone who’s views have been dismissed as those of a “Howard Hater”. To be broadcast on Sunday August 26 at 12 noon. Download it. (14.9MB)

Ian Plimer on the Science Show

(9/9/09 – Note that this is a post from 2007 about a radio interview, well before the publication of the book Heaven & Earth, though many issues dealt with here are still being raised in more recent interviews, so you may find it to still be of interest, but for up to date info you can see this update)

This week Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide was one of the guests on the ABC’s Science Show to talk about his scepticism of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). There is a transcript available here. There was some response to his points later in the show, but I have quite a bit more to add below the fold.

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More Recommended Reading

Just catching up on reading through my links on my day off, there’s a few things I’d like to recommend:

  • Phil at Spinopsys has posted an interesting video about the high cost of free parking.
  • Tim Lambert has been exposing the lies about DDT for ages, but his recent posts on the matter have been particularly good as he follows the money to find out where the “Rachel Carson is responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans” claim so beloved of anti-environmentalists came from.
  • John Quiggin has written an excellent review of Clive Hamilton’s new book. The review serves as a concise history of the Howard government’s approach to climate change. Via Blogocracy.
  • Nexus 6 finds that the Oz are very carefully targeting their advertising.
  • Mark Diesendorf will be in Adelaide speaking about “Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy” this Thursday.
  • Greens MLC Mark Parnell wants the SA Government to stop BHP’s free ride.
  • The Denialism bloggers have a couple of great posts about cranks, first there is the how to guide , and then a case study – someone who will be familiar to readers of this blog, Alexander Cockburn. Also, you may have missed this link in an update to an old post, so here it is again: the Cockburn vs Monbiot debate.

That’s it for now, but I’ll get around to writing something myself some time soon.