In 2007 a High Court judge ruled that An Inconvenient Truth, "Al Gore's award-winning climate change documentary was littered with nine inconvenient untruths". With the film grossing over $50m and Gore charging $100,000 per lecture the notion that global warming was more of a political than an environmental issue is a difficult one to dismiss out of hand. Yet, according to Ian Plimer, the whole concept of global warming through human activity is essentially a political issue with little scientific evidence to support it. Echoing what is happening in many areas of modern science he suggests that "science is becoming a belief system wherein the belief with the greatest number of followers becomes the established fact and received knowledge. This belief is sustained by consensus and authority." However, as Plimer points out, "consensus is not a scientific fact, it is a political process."
Plimer dismisses the claim that humans are creating a massive change in the earth's temperature and argues that "other facts such as major Earth processes, variable solar activity, solar wind and cosmic rays appear to have a far more significant factor on the Earth's climate than previously thought." He suggests that some scientists have misled the public with incomplete and false data by ignoring the history of climate change, in particular, "that during the Medieval Warming (900-1300 AD) the global temperature was a few degrees higher than today". As this was before industrialisation the idea that humans have created climate change cannot be supported.
Although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an "ascientific political organisation" its agenda has been set by "environmental activists and government representatives... for a variety of reasons including boosting trade, encouraging protectionism, adding costs to competitors and pushing their own sovereign barrow." He supports Irving Langmuir's argument that, "there is good science, pathological science and psuedoscience" with the last two named failing satisfy the demands of the scientific method. Quoting Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, he identifies three forms of scientific dishonesty: trimming, bias and forging and suggests supporters of climate change have used all three top buttress their case, particularly in the use and presentation of data.
Plimer presents his case in detailed fashion, covering the history of global warming and providing chapters on the influence on climate change of the Sun, Earth, Ice, Water and Air, posing relevant questions regarding the role of each in global warming. He also makes the accusation that some have confused climate change with the impact of human activity on the weather. He disputes the accuracy of computer models and points out that nature is still capable of providing surprises which humankind does not anticipate. Although "there is a good correlation between temperature and CO2 from 1976 to 1998. Correlation does not mean causation."
Drawing on examples from history Plimer shows that those who have predicted the end of the world have a dismal record when it comes to accuracy. The source of the predictions have changed from religious to scientific conviction but there is no reason to suppose that modern day predictions are any more accurate than their predecessors, although they convey the same moral overtones of penance and changing our ways. In this respect Plimer argues that extreme environmentalism is a new religion which has emerged to fill the space left by the decline of Christianity in the religious sphere and socialism in the secular world. He concludes, "Human induced global warming is an unproven scientific hypothesis yet it has become an article of scientific dogma," cocooned from reality by its own self appointed priesthood of peer reviewers.
In reply the propagators of the global warming theory have labelled Plimer and others as "climate change" deniers which does tend to reinforce the idea that the whole question is political rather than scientific. Indeed, one cannot deny the evangelical zeal with which climate change supporters attack anyone who dissents from their opinion. In response Plimer retorts by asking the question, "What if I'm wrong?", a question he suggests climate change supporters fail to ask of themselves.
Once politicians get hold of an idea truth tends to go out of the window. In this instance the use of science for political ends reflects what is happening in other areas of science. On that basis I have sympathy for Plimer's argument and would suggest that everyone interested in the subject should read his extensive volume to examine the argument against human contributions to climate change. It's well worth the effort. Five stars for the book.