Thursday, August 06, 2009

George Monbiot: Let Battle Commence!

George Monbiot has been challenging Ian Plimer to back up some of his claims. Plimer is an Australian geologist and the author of a recent book supposedly debunking the idea that humans are changing global climate. Now Plimer has accepted Monbiot's challenge. If Plimer answers a long list of Monbiot's questions, the two will debate climate change.

Monbiot has posted eleven questions relating to claims in Plimer's book. They are pretty much deadly dull, unless you've read the book as closely as Monbiot obviously has. Most of them focus on the sources of Plimer's claims, with some apparent misquotes. Monbiot also asks if the misquotes are accidents or deliberate distortions.

I'm not sure much will come out of this beyond a small bump up in readership for The Guardian. Plimer likely will obfuscate, Monbiot will attack, and the questions will remain deadly dull. There will be an argument as to whether the debate should proceed.

If Plimer admits mistakes and answers the questions clearly, the legs would be kicked out from under his book. If so many mistakes, why shouldn't we believe that there are more? And were they, indeed, mistakes or deliberate distortions?

If Plimer answers at all honestly and defends his positions, we might get a look into the thinking of climate deniers. I would like to think that a geologist has backed up his conclusions scientifically, even if only sketchily. And I would hope he would check the references he uses in a book.

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