This is a collection of scientific assessments and commentaries on Heaven and Earth: Global Warming: The Missing Science, a book by Ian Plimer which attempts to deny that human activities are responsible for potentially dangerous climate change.
Kurt Lambeck, earth scientist and president of the Australian Academy of Science, comments on ABC Radio National’s “Ockham’s Razor” about Heaven and Earth. Audio with transcript. (Short link: bit.ly/klambeckplimer )
To give his arguments a semblance of respectability the book is replete with references. But the choice is very selective. Plimer will quote, for example, a paper that appears to support his argument, but then he does not mention that the conclusions therein have been completely refuted in subsequent papers. Elsewhere, he refers to a specific question raised in published work but does not mention that this issue has subsequently been resolved, has been incorporated in subsequent analyses, and is no longer relevant. Or he simply misquotes the work or takes it out of context. An example of this is a reference to my own in the Mediterranean where he gives quite a misleading twist to what we actually concluded.
Other examples can be identified in this section, and throughout the book. Together they point to either carelessness, to a lack of understanding of the underlying science, or to an attempt to see the world through tinted spectacles.
Ian Plimer’s book is a case study in how not to be objective. Decide on your position from the outset, and then seek out all the facts that apparently support your case, and discard or ignore all of those that contravene it. He quotes a couple of thousand peer-reviewed scientific papers when mounting specific arguments. What Ian doesn’t say is that the vast majority of these authors have considered the totality of evidence on the topic of human-induced global warming and conclude that it is real and a problem.
[I]t may well be held up as an example for the future. An example of just how deluded and misrepresentative the psuedo-sceptical war against science really was in the first decade of the 21st century.
• it has numerous internal inconsistencies;
• it often misrepresents the operation of the IPCC and the content of IPCC reports;
• in spite of the extensive referencing, key data are unattributed and the content of references is often mis-quoted.
Most importantly, Ian Plimer fails to establish his claim that the human influence on climate can be ignored, relative to natural variations.
Plimer’s book claims current global warming is a natural event consistent with climate variability through time and attributed primarily to the sun.
The book negates the well documented consistent relations between climate and carbon gases, which through the Earth’s history resulted in temperature changes in the range of several degrees C , including abrupt climate changes and related mass extinction of species .
Climate scientist David Karoly reviews Heaven and Earth (audio with transcript):
Given the errors, the non-science, and the nonsense in this book, it should be classified as science fiction in any library that wastes its funds buying it. The book can then be placed on the shelves alongside Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, another science fiction book about climate change with many footnotes. The only difference is that there are fewer scientific errors in State of Fear.
Plimer has done an enormous disservice to science, and the dedicated scientists who are trying to understand climate and the influence of humans, by publishing this book. 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. Plimer’s book deserves to languish on the shelves along with similar pseudo-science such as the writings of Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Daniken.
The science is missing from Ian Plimer’s “Heaven and Earth” by computer scientist and climate change commentator Tim Lambert. (Short link: bit.ly/tlambertplimer )
He accepts any factoid that supports his conclusion and rejects any evidence that contradicts his conclusion.
A review by geologist and planetary scientist Malcolm Walter on The Science Show, ABC Radio National. Audio. (Short link: bit.ly/walterplimer )
He has done a disservice to science and the community at large.
Mike Pope does a nice job at Online Opinion of debunking Plimer’s central claims in Heaven, Earth and science fiction, concluding:
To avoid following the polar bear to extinction, homo sapiens would do well to reject the science fiction espoused by Plimer. That may be a bit harsh on science fiction writers whose work is often prescient, even plausible. No such claims can be made for Ian Plimer’s book.
Short link for this post: bit.ly/plimer