In 2009, Tony Abbott attacked as ”climate change alarmists” those scientists who worked on the peak UN scientific advisory body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and who were warning about the threat from climate change.
Abbott described them on Four Corners as ”the people who will tell you as if it’s as obvious as night following day that we have a huge problem and that unless we dramatically change the way we live, life as we know it will be under massive threat. As I said, there’s an evangelical fervour about those people which you don’t normally associate with scientists”.
Well you should recognise evangelical when you see it Tony. Did it ever occur to you that all those scientists might be urging action because the danger is real, imminent, and potentially catastrophic?
As a member of Malcolm Turnbull’s shadow cabinet Abbott cheerfully championed the work of the prominent Australian climate sceptic Professor Ian Plimer.
”I think that in response to the IPCC alarmist – ah, in inverted commas – view, there’ve been quite a lot of other reputable scientific voices. Now not everyone agrees with Ian Plimer’s position, but he is a highly credible scientist and he has written what seems like a very well-argued book refuting most of the claims of the climate catastrophists.”
When Tony Jones asked Tony Abbott in a Lateline interview in November 2009 if he had read the IPCC report on global warming he replied
“No, I don’t claim to have immersed myself deeply in all of these documents. I’m a politician. I have to rely on briefings – I have to rely on what I pick up through the secondary sources.”
When Tony Jones went on to ask Mr Abbott, who has often quoted from Ian Plimer’s book Heaven+Earth to justify his claim that climate change is crap, if he had actually read the book he replied
“I haven’t yet finished Ian Plimer’s book. I have started Ian Plimer’s book… I’ve quoted a couple of passages, and I confess I’m probably more familiar with the book through people who’ve written about it than I am through having read it myself.”
We all know reading isn’t Tony’s best thing. I wonder if he checks the credibility of his “secondary sources” before he accepts their précis of the primary source.
The interview continued…
TONY JONES: What evidence do you have then for saying that the earth has cooled since the late 1990s.
TONY ABBOTT: Well, I am not setting myself up as the great expert here, but the Hadley Institute in Britain, which is apparently one of the most reputable of these measuring centres, according to press reports, has found that after heating up very significantly in the previous 25 years, there seems to have been a slight cooling, but at a high plateau I’ll accept that.
TONY JONES: That is Ian Plimer’s argument. So when you actually go…
TONY ABBOTT: This is the Hadley Centre – this is measurements (you know, numbers, graphs, that stuff).
When Tony Jones pointed out that the Hadley Centre report went on to say that 1998 to 2006 include the six hottest years in recorded history (which have since been surpassed) and that by 2060 global temperatures could rise by 4 degrees with catastrophic implications for Australia, Abbott replied
“As I said, it is quite concerning but we have to remember that these are computer models and we also have to accept that there is… there are certainly some reputable scientists, Tony, who don’t accept that the most important element in climate change, to the extent that it’s occurring, is man-made carbon dioxide.”
TONY JONES: And yet those same people quote the Hadley Centre as you did, suggesting that the earth has cooled. And yet when you look at it in detail, what you can see is, it has remained on a remarkably high plateau – higher than any recorded temperatures.
TONY ABBOTT: But since 1997, notwithstanding the continued increase in man-made CO2, there has not been a further increase.
TONY JONES: And you are happy with that?
TONY ABBOTT: Well, look, if man-made CO2 was quite the villain that many of these people say it is, why hasn’t there just been a steady increase starting in 1750, and moving in a linear way up the graph.
Ummm, perhaps your secondary sources didn’t notify you…
… and it’s only gone up from there.
•The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for November 2013 was record highest for the 134-year period of record, at 0.78°C (1.40°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (55.2°F).
•The global land surface temperature was 1.43°C (2.57°F) above the 20th century average of 5.9°C (42.6°F), the second highest for November on record, behind 2010. For the global oceans, the November average sea surface temperature was 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F), tying with 2009 as the third highest for November.
•The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the September–November period was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F), the second warmest such period on record, behind only 2005.
•The September–November worldwide land surface temperature was 1.08°C (1.94°F) above the 20th century average, the third warmest such period on record. The global ocean surface temperature for the same period was 0.52°C (0.94°F) above the 20th century average, tying with 2009 and 2012 as the fourth warmest September–November on record.
•The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the year-to-date (January–November) was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.2°F), tying with 2002 as the fourth warmest such period on record.
You will hear Ian Plimer quoted by Tony Abbott, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Gina Rinehart, and pretty much everyone that thinks climate change is crap. Let’s face it, climate change denialists that have any credentials are few and far between so he gets trotted out a lot. So let’s examine those credentials and his possible motivation for being the tame expert.
Prof Plimer is an experienced mining geologist and a professor of mining geology at the University of Adelaide. He currently serves on the board of stock exchange-listed miners Ivanhoe Australia and Silver City Mines, and has held previous board roles at CBH Mining and a number of other Australian mining companies. The companies he is involved with mine minerals including gold, zinc, copper and uranium, in Australia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
According to disclosures made to the Australians Securities and Investments Commission, Professor Plimer was appointed by Gina Rinehart to the boards of Roy Hill Holdings and Queensland Coal Investments on January 25 2012. Roy Hill is key to Mrs Rinehart’s ambitions to challenge the big three Pilbara iron ore players in her own right. The company is the manager of the Roy Hill mine, which plans to export 55 million tonnes of iron ore a year through Port Hedland when it is up and running at full capacity.
He is also listed as a member of Mrs Rinehart’s Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision (ANDEV) lobby group, which has taken strong positions on corporate taxation and climate change initiatives.
Prof Plimer has written several books, not for scientists, but for ordinary people. He was convinced his new book denying the science of climate change, Heaven+Earth. Global Warming: The Missing Science, would be a best-seller even when he could not find a publisher. It was rejected by ABC Books, Random House, which had published an earlier best-selling book, Telling Lies for God, Allen and Unwin, Reed, and the niche South Australian publisher East Street.
Eventually Plimer sought out Connor Court, an independent publisher based at Ballan in Victoria, that publishes Catholic books, including one by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, another climate change denier who quotes Plimer’s arguments. Plimer called, emailed, and 10 minutes later had his proposal accepted. “We know who you are,” they said, and began preparing artwork before the manuscript had even arrived. He later met the publisher, Anthony Cappello, and reassured him he had done the right thing. “I told him, ‘Anthony, this is going to be the biggest book you’ve ever had. This book will put your kids through school’,” Plimer says. “He didn’t believe me but I knew it was going to be good.”
Plimer is one of the most widely quoted climate sceptics in the world – and has been interviewed by the BBC’s flagship Today programme and in newspapers including the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. James Randerson, the Guardian’s science editor, has described Plimer as “one of the most difficult and evasive interviewees I have spoken to in my career.”
Professor Michael Ashley, a professor of Astrophysics at the University of New South Wales, wrote:
“It is not ‘merely’ atmospheric scientists that would have to be wrong for Plimer to be right. It would require a rewriting of biology, geology, physics, oceanography, astronomy and statistics.”
Professor Kurt Lambeck, an earth scientist and president of the Australian Academy of Science, said of Heaven and Earth:
“If this had been written by an honours student, I would have failed it with the comment: You have obviously trawled through a lot of material but the critical analysis is missing.”
One of the best-known examples of Plimer’s errors is his view on the contribution of volcanoes to global warming. Plimer maintains that volcanoes produce more carbon dioxide than human activity. However, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reports that humans are currently releasing about 100-300 times as much C02 per year than the estimated annual production from volcanoes. The US government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criticised Plimer’s statement as having “no factual basis.”
Tony Abbott seems to have a predilection for quoting, and employing, people who cherry-pick data to back up a view that always ends up supporting the mining companies. Go figure.
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