Ian Plimer is a highly influential climate sceptic. His new book, via a Ballarat-based Catholic-aligned publisher, takes on the environmental movement. Will Tony Abbott read it?
The doyen of Australia’s climate sceptic movement, Ian Plimer, has a new book — and this time he’s broadened his attack to the entire environmental movement.
Not for Greens: He who sups with the Devil should have a long spoon is coming out this month via boutique Catholic publishing house Connor Court. It’s a polemic that argues that environmentalists harm the environment, have their facts wrong, want to control your money and have a “totalitarian approach”.
Plimer, a mining geologist, has cachet in Coalition circles. His 2009 book Heaven and Earth argued that human-induced climate change is not real, sold 40,000 copies and graces the bookshelves of many Coalition MPs. It is often cited among MPs and has been influential in party room debates. The new book will be well-read within the Abbott government and aligned business elites and will embolden those who dislike greens. Expect to hear it quoted in Parliament, and to see Plimer lauded on climate sceptic blogs (Andrew Bolt is already onto it) and hosted on Tory radio shows.
Not for Greens uses the allegory of a metal teaspoon to conclude that modern life depends on fossil fuels and that environmentalist policies would deprive us of cutlery and reduce us to cave people.
This is how Plimer sums up his message: “If you’re a green, and you’re criticising the coal industry, then you should not use cutlery, you should go out into the bush and starve.”
In a sympathetic recent interview associated with a mining conference, as dogs howl in the background, Plimer said this to environmentalists:
“Go out in the bush, live your sustainable life, don’t bother me. And if I want some advice from you, I’ll go to your cave and see how you’re going with your sustainable living. But until then get out of my life, because I’m very comfortable …”
Plimer says the humble teaspoon was created through mineral exploration, mining, smelting and refining, and without coal it would not exist. This apparently proves that a modern, middle-class life is incompatible with environmentalists.
The 200-page book, RRP $29.95, claims wind farms and solar panels use more energy to build than they will ever generate. Plimer, an academic at the University of Adelaide with a background in mining and energy, says renewable energy policies have left hundreds of thousands of people in “fuel poverty”. He says greens have a “totalitarian approach … the greens are not interested in environmentalism”.
The book may prove popular. Plimer claims it “will be a very good seller because the average punter is not a fool, they’re treated like fools by the greens and many others”. It’s already No, 1 on Connor Court’s bestseller list, beating out a 1970s book on sex in Christian marriage with a moving foreword by a Catholic priest, and the memoirs of B.A. Santamaria’s brother Joe (B.A. was a Democratic Labor Party identity and Tony Abbott’s mentor). The Institute of Public Affairs (of which Plimer is an associate) is promoting Not for Greens as a gift idea.
Last month academic Clive Hamilton named Plimer as one of Crikey’s “dirty dozen” who have done the most to block action on climate change. Plimer has some high-profile allies. Former PM John Howard launched his last book How to Get Expelled from School: A guide to climate change for pupils, parents and punters. Gina Rinehart has put Plimer on two of her boards.
Connor Court publisher Anthony Cappello has ordered a print run of 10,000 copies of the new book. The small Ballarat-based publishing house, which specialises in climate scepticism and religious works, is confident. “The signs are good,” Cappello told Crikey. “All his books are controversial, he’s not afraid of a fight.”
Cappello said it might not sell as well as previous works because “Heaven and Earth was a bit of a freak … and the timing was perfect”. Plimer will tour nationally in June (he has previously toured with Lord Christopher Monckton).
The book has a foreword by Patrick Moore, a Canadian spin doctor for nuclear power and the mining and energy industries who was an early member of Greenpeace. While Plimer claims Moore “started Greenpeace”, Greenpeace denies this, saying Moore did not found or start the organisation but joined the year after it started.
While Heaven and Earth was a success, it may have been overhyped as a bestseller. Connor Court claims the book sold 40,000 copies worldwide and it’s the publisher’s biggest-selling title. Research by Crikey has found it failed to make the top 20 list for best-selling non-fiction books in Australia in 2010-11 or 2011-12. (To be fair, those lists are dominated by cookbooks and memoirs, while books on politics and science often end up in the bargain bin.)
At any rate, Heaven and Earth has been a cash cow for Connor Court, assisting it to publish some works with limited appeal. Sex Love in Christian Marriage, written in 1973 and with a foreword by Father Anthony Percy ($9.95) may not be a big seller, while Cory Bernardi’sConservative Revolution is more contemporary. There’s Joe Santamaria on Catholic values and Liberal MP Guy Barnett’s guide to lobbying. Mark Lawson, a senior journalist at The Australian Financial Review, has published A Guide to Climate Change Lunacy. Cardinal George Pell has four titles with Connor Court, one of which allows readers to “feel closer to Christ”. And there’s tracts by noted climate sceptics James Delingpole and Donna Laframboise.