Stairway from Heaven

By Gareth Renowden 26/10/2009

Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing ScienceI popped into my local Paper Plus at the end of last week, and noted that were a few copies of Ian Plimer’s Heaven + Earth stacked up in the pre-Christmas display. Described by the NZ publisher (Ian Wishart’s Howling At The Moon imprint) as “the world’s #1 climate change book”, it makes a good companion for Air Con on any crank’s Christmas wish list. Unlike Air Con, however, Plimer’s book has been extensively reviewed in Australia and elsewhere, and so — as a public service — here are a few extracts that may help members of the reality-based community to decide whether to buy a copy…

Professor Michael Ashley, in The Australian:

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.

Professor Barry Brooke, at Brave New Climate:

Ian’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. Plausible to conspiracy theorists, perhaps, but hardly a sane world view – and insulting to all those genuinely committed to real science.

Professor Kurt Lambeck, president of the Australian Academy of Science, on ABC’s Ockham’s Razor:

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. Supporting arguments and unsupported arguments in the literature are not distinguished or properly referenced, and you have left the impression that you have not developed an understanding of the processes involved. Rewrite!

Professor David Karoly, on ABC’s Science Show:

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.

Bob Ward in the Times (London):

It is easy to see why this book has attracted attention, particularly from right-wing commentators who have long believed that man-made climate change is a conspiracy theory. But this book is so full of errors that readers who believe its content could be seriously misled about the causes and consequences of climate change.

Tim Lambert at Deltoid has much, much more. Plus: you can download a 46 page document prepared by Professor Ian Enting detailing all of Plimer’s errors and misrepresentations.

No surprises, then, if I reveal that it won’t be on my Christmas list…

[The 2:40 version]