From the awarmist ABC comes “Plimer launches kids’ climate sceptic book” wherein Matt Peacock tries his best not to discuss the substance of Prof. Plimer’s book:
Matt Peacock: To the geology professor and climate sceptic whose book, How to Get Expelled from School: A Guide to Climate Change for Pupils, Parents and Punters, was launched last night by the former prime minister, John Howard.
Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology at the University of Adelaide, claims that much of the concern about global warming’s the result of political activism, opportunism and is unrelated to science. But that’s not his only controversial view.
Professor Plimer also argues that white asbestos, known as chrysotile, is not really asbestos, and three years ago he even asserted that it was not a carcinogen.
Earlier, I asked him whether his new book really would see kids expelled.
Ian Plimer: It’s going to teach them to ask the fundamental questions: is climate change normal? And once climate change has established as being normal, terms such as “denier” and “sceptic” have no validity and the teachers then have to deal with the key scientific questions like, which part of the last 330 years of warming is natural and which part is due to human activity?
Matt Peacock: The Science Teachers Association and others have taken exception to your book already. Does that worry you?
Ian Plimer: Not at all. I see the products of the science teachers. I see 500 of them every year. I have for the last forty years. These kids coming out today have the lack of basics of chemistry, physics, mathematics, logic and English. These kids today are being taught environmental activism and they have to be retaught the basics before they can understand how the world works.
I’m not surprised at people who are probably activists are a little bit concerned.
Matt Peacock: Well you’re a professor of mining geology, simply put a rock expert. How does that quality you on meteorological and climate sciences?
Ian Plimer: Every rock you look at you ask a simple question. What was sea level doing? What was the climate doing? And every geology textbook, going back hundreds of years, deals with past climate.
And we’ve only got to our present climate from past climates. The climate industry ignores the past.
Climate science is a very new science. Geology is a great part of climate science. You cannot ignore geology. If you do, you get a completely different view of the way the planet works.
But that’s the way that the climate industry wants us to look at climate because geology has those really uncomfortable questions. It shows that sea level goes up and down and climate goes up and down and the land goes up and down and it’s much more complicated than traces of a trace gas in the atmosphere.
Matt Peacock: Well can I ask you a simple question about your expertise, rocks? A few years ago you told me chrysotile was not asbestos, is that right?
Ian Plimer: Chrysotile’s a serpentine mineral. That is absolutely correct. Mineralogically it’s a serpentine mineral.
Matt Peacock: So it’s not asbestos?
Ian Plimer: It is called commercially “asbestos”. The mineral chrysotile is a serpentine mineral.
Matt Peacock: Even the asbestos industry calls it “asbestos”. I mean the town Asbestos mines chrysotile.
Ian Plimer: As I said it’s called commercially “asbestos”.
Matt Peacock: But scientifically...
Ian Plimer: However—
Matt Peacock: With respect, Professor, it’s called “asbestos” scientifically too.
Ian Plimer: I’m sorry. You are just a journalist. I have spent my life studying minerals. Look up any basic mineralogy textbook—the sort of thing that we give to 18-year-old students at university—and you'll see that chrysotile is a serpentine mineral.
Matt Peacock: Called “asbestos”.
Ian Plimer: A family of serpentine minerals—
Matt Peacock: Called “asbestos”.
Ian Plimer: whereas asbestos minerals are amphibole minerals.
Matt Peacock: Amphibole like crocidolite and amosite, but chrysotile is part of the family called “asbestos”. Is it not?
Ian Plimer: I am sorry. You are demonstrating mass ignorance. You are out of your depth. I invite you to come to some elementary first year mineralogy lectures and you will learn—
Matt Peacock: And isn’t chrysotile...
Ian Plimer: the difference between amphiboles and—
Matt Peacock: Well, another simple question: is chrysotile a carcinogen?
Ian Plimer: The literature is quite varied on this now. There’s been a lot more work done.
Matt Peacock: You told me it wasn’t. You told me it wasn’t, three years ago. Do you still have that view?
Ian Plimer: I’m sorry, I’m sorry you are letting your ideology run loose.
Matt Peacock: Well, let me quote this letter that you wrote me three years ago.
Ian Plimer: Let me just say that the mineralogy and the epidemiological work has been done since then and it is now quite equivocal as to what chrysotile does. Three or four years ago we had a different view.
Matt Peacock: Professor, in 2008 you wrote to me that ... excuse me, can I ask you this question? In 2008 you wrote to me and you said chrysotile is not a carcinogen. Do you still stand by that view?
Ian Plimer: The literature now has changed. There has been some more work done. Now there happened to be three years of scientific work done between 2008 and 2010—
Matt Peacock: And in 2008 the WHO (World Health Organisation) said it was a carcinogen, so did medical authorities throughout the world, but you said it wasn’t.
Ian Plimer: No, I’m sorry. It was equivocal. It is probably less equivocal now. And, again, you are allowing ideology to actually overrun your logic—
Matt Peacock: And you're saying in 2008, Professor, that asbestos was not viewed as a carcinogen?
Ian Plimer: Well, I’m sure that has a huge amount to do with climate change.
Matt Peacock: But, Professor, it goes to your credibility does it not?
Ian Plimer: It certainly goes to your credibility when you are trying to—
Matt Peacock: How could a geologist such as yourself say that chrysotile is not a carcinogen?
Ian Plimer: you are trying to claim that mineral chrysotile is an asbestos mineral when you know full well that it isn’t. And it is no wonder that people have lost faith in the ABC because you know very well—
Matt Peacock: And the entire industry in Canada, the town of Asbestos that mines chrysotile, they’ve all got it wrong?
Ian Plimer: You know very well that crocidolite is an amphibole. You know very well because you could very simply call up Mindat. You could call up any website on mineralogy and you could be shown to be quite misleading and deceptive.
Matt Peacock: Final question, Professor.
Ian Plimer: I don’t know why you want to spend your time totally and absolutely out of your depth and you are only reporting what (inaudible) ABC.
Matt Peacock: A final question, with respect Professor, have you ever taken any money from the coal industry or the asbestos industry or their lobbyists?
Ian Plimer: Not at all. But have you, sir, ever taken any money from the taxpayer? And that is what you are doing to paint an ideological picture which in most cases can be regarded as misleading and deceptive.
Matt Peacock: Thanks for your time, Professor. The University of Adelaide’s Professor Ian Plimer.
UPDATE (21 December): according to mattpeacock.net:
Matt began his career in 1973 as a trainee with Australia’s first TV current affairs program, “This Day Tonight”, before joining the ABC Radio National’s Science Unit, where he produced a pioneering radio series on the asbestos industry. [...]
More recently he authored a book on the former Australian asbestos manufacturer James Hardie, “Killer Company” (HarperCollins, 2009), which is soon to become a dramatic mini-series.
Matt has contributed articles for a range of newspapers, magazines and books and is Adjunct Professor of Journalism with Sydney’s University of Technology (UTS).