BPSDB The headline may as well have read like that since the actual one was just as idiotic; “Global warming is the new religion of First World urban elites.” The article in question is allegedly reporting on the “science” of Ian Plimer, “an unremitting critic of “anthropogenic global warming”.”
The article by Jonathan Manthorpe is so fawning and gushing that it would be embarrassing as text for Plimer’s book jacket, never mind as an Opinion piece or book review. For breathless and brainless worship it’s about on a par with an adolescent’s Hannah Montana Myspace fan page. Yet according to the Vancouver Sun, this article was supposedly “News”?
In and of itself it’s just another piece of popular media climate change Denierism which has already been responded to by others. However, since the piece is so extreme in several senses I thought it might be a good example to use to look at the issue of climate science in the media generally.
Let’s begin with Plimer and his book. “Heavan and Earth” was published back in April and has been thoroughly reviewed by a number of reputable scientists (see ‘Plimer, a sampling’ below), including a point by point critique (38 page pdf). Real Climate’s summary pretty much covers the response by scientists:
“The same strawmen are being constructed and demolished as if they were part of a make-work scheme for the building industry attached to the stimulus proposal. Indeed, the enthusiastic recycling of talking points long thought to have been dead and buried has been given a huge boost by the publication of a new book by Ian Plimer who seems to have been collecting them for years. Given the number of simply made–up ‘facts’ in that tome, one soon realises that the concept of an objective reality against which one should measure claims and judge arguments is not something that is universally shared. This is troubling – and although there is certainly a role for some to point out the incoherence of such arguments (which in that case Tim Lambert and Ian Enting are doing very well), it isn’t something that requires much in the way of physical understanding or scientific background.”
Although Coby Beck is more pithy and equally accurate “…Ian Plimer`s recent fiction novel “Heaven and Earth” [emphasis added].
The book received some undeserved attention in a vacuous puff piece by climate change Denier James Delingpol Meet the man who has exposed the great climate change con trick in The Spectator, but this was quickly refuted by George Monbiot Spectator recycles climate rubbish published by sceptic. As Tim Lambert commented “I’m amazed that the Spectator is prepared to run a story like this on its cover when a quick check would have shown that it’s utter nonsense.” Just substitute “Vancouver Sun” for “Spectator.”
The book is scientific gibberish. A silly collection of fables, distortions and outright fabrications, and was already well documented as such (see ‘Plimer, a sampling’ below) when Manthorpe wrote his article. It required no investigative journalism to discover this fact. It was information easily available to any 10 year old with access to a search engine.
Yet in Manthorp’s piece we get no suggestion that Plimer’s alleged “facts” are even in dispute, much less known to be idiotic nonsense. Everything Plimer has to say is presented as though it were fact, whereas the scientific community is presented as ideological hysterics who have no facts:
“the ayatollahs of purist environmentalism, the Torquemadas of the doctrine of global warming”
” these scientific and academic voices have fallen silent in the face of environmental Jacobinism”
“Purging humankind of its supposed sins of environmental degradation has become a religion with a fanatical and often intolerant priesthood“
To boost Plimer’s credibility Manthorpe throws in a few more logical fallacies, misleading claims and outright lies:
“It is, of course, not new to have a highly qualified scientist  saying that global warming is an entirely natural phenomenon with many precedents in history. Many have made the argument , too, that it is rubbish to contend human behaviour is causing the current climate change. And it has often been well argued   that it is totally ridiculous to suppose that changes in human behaviour — cleaning up our act through expensive slight-of-hand taxation tricks — can reverse the trend.“
 Who? where? names and citation to the science?
 By who? Anyone who had a clue what they were talking about? did they have any evidence? or were they just making the argument?
… and so on.
This is journalism? Even if Manthrope is incapable of navigating the internet, he couldn’t pick up a phone and speak to someone at one of the local Universities, government departments, or NGOs? is Manthorpe hoping to get Morano’s old job with Inhofe? or perhaps the chief propagandist for the Competitive Enterprise Institute?
Contrast Manthrope’s obsequious Public Relations copy with coverage of Plimer done by the typically anti-science, climate change Denying Australian:
“Defending climatologists and thousands of other scientists, Barry Brook, who heads Adelaide University’s Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability, poured cold water on Professor Plimer’s book and said his colleague had only used “selective evidence” when quoting more than 200 scientists and from peer-reviewed papers.
Professor Plimer’s “stated view of climate science is that a vast number of extremely well respected scientists and a whole range of specialist disciplines have fallen prey to delusional self-interest and become nothing more than unthinking ideologues”, he said.
“Plausible to conspiracy theorists, perhaps, but hardly a sane world view, and insulting to all those genuinely committed to real science.”
Even by The Australian‘s standards Manthrope is totally over the top, and that’s saying something. The other rebuttals to Manthrope’s silliness have attempted to address the substantive issues, but it’s a struggle since there really isn’t anything of substance in the original article:
That being said, one cannot hold Manthrope entirely responsible. Every human has their blind spots, and while a veteran journalist like Manthrope really should have had seizures when he witnessed the drivel he was writing, I assume he too can err just like any human. That’s why there are editors.
Or rather, it’s what editors are supposed to be for. This piece cannot be excused as having “slipped by.” We are not talking about one or two egregious errors within the body of the piece. The entire thing is one long violation of good journalistic practice. It is literally Public Relations copy, not journalism.
If it got published it is because the editors wanted it that way, perhaps even encouraged it. Clearly if it serves their political agenda we can expect the Vancouver Sun to also bring us the “News” that the earth is flat and that perpetual motion works. No doubt also without context, or comment from credible sources, or any mention that, just like Plimer’s fantasies, it violates both basic physical laws and simple common sense.
Of Manthrope’s article and the Vancouver Sun Mitchell Anderson notes:
It is certainly not the first time that their parent company CanWest Global has taken utterly irresponsible editorial position on climate science.
This mindset of ideology over objectivity might explain why their stock price is now hovering around $0.14.
From Ian Plimer – RCwiki
- Ian Plimer – Heaven and Earth Barry Brook, Brave New Climate, Apr 23, 2009
- The science is missing from Ian Plimer’s “Heaven and Earth Deltoid, Apr 23, 2009 (continuing coverage)
- The ‘Plimer view’ vs reality: a good lesson for climate change sceptics Charlie Veron, Climateshifts, Apr 27 2009 (Detailed rebuttal)
- RAPID ROUNDUP: New book by Ian Plimer doubts human-induced climate change – experts respond Australian Science Media Centre, Apr 21, 2009 (with updates)
- Denialist ark a wobbly craft Leigh Dayton, The Australian, May 6, 2009
- No science in Plimer’s primer Michael Ashley, The Australian, May 9, 2009
- Ian Plimer’s ‘Heaven + Earth’ — Checking the Claims Ian Enting, May 2009 (work in progress)
- Comments on Heaven and Earth: Global Warming: The Missing Science, Ockhams Razor, ABC Radio Kurt Lambeck, president of the Australian Academy of Science (audio with transcript)
- Plimer wants to talk science? OK, here goes… Andrew Glikson, Crikey, May 5, 2009
- Heaven + Earth – review Malcolm Walter, The Science Show, ABC Radio National, June 6, 2009 (audio with transcript)
- Heaven + Earth – review David Karoly, The Science Show, ABC Radio National, June 13, 2009 (audio with transcript)
- Spectator recycles climate rubbish published by sceptic George Monbiot, The Guardian, 9 July 2009
- The Spectator is hot for global warming denial Alex Higgins, Huffington Post, 13 July 2009
- Leprechauns and climate
- Plimer watch
- Jeanne Roberts | Global Warming Deniers Down Under Get Pathetic Plimer Promotion
- Spot the recycled denial III – Prof Ian Plimer « BraveNewClimate.com
- Ian Plimer lies about source of his figure 3 : Deltoid
- Ian Plimer
- David Karoly on Plimer : Deltoid
- Global Warming Watch: Is Ian Plimer’s Heaven and Earth a sell-out?
- Plimer does the Gish gallop : Deltoid
- Lambeck on Plimer : Deltoid
- Plimer : Deltoid
- Malcolm Walter on Plimer : Deltoid
- Denialist ark a wobbly craft | The Australian
- Heaven and Earth (book) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In northern Canada, an area of about two million square miles contains rivers that collectively move about 276 cubic miles of fresh water into the ocean every year. … This means that years of both especially low and especially high streamflow (years of particularly low and particularly high rainfall) now happen more often than they did in the middle of the 20th century. Earth Gauge
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
Denier “Challenge” aka Deathwatch Update: Day 283 … still no evidence.
Comments that are not relevant to the post that they appear under or the evolving discussion will simply be deleted, as will links to Denier spam known to be scientific gibberish