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May 7, 2014

Ian Plimer takes on the 'totalitarian' greens in latest book

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?

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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’s Conservative 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.

Cathy Alexander —

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

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52 thoughts on “Ian Plimer takes on the ‘totalitarian’ greens in latest book

  1. PDGFD1

    Hmmm… My colleagues in the USA say that the most highly-funded ‘climate’ research area at the moment is Geoengineering.
    Frankly, one of the reasons I am in favour of doing whatever is necessary to avoid the need for using this drastic ‘reaction to inaction’ is a concern that we may find ourselves in a position where the sky can never be clear and blue again (using particles to ‘seed’ the atmosphere).
    Perhaps the ‘sheeple’ voters , and especially the currently young, would be interested to know that should the geoengineers be called upon at the ’11th hour’ their clear blue skies will be gone forever…
    S.A.D. disorder forever…time to crank up the fear tactics since everyone in the ‘west’ seems to thing that rising sea levels and mass-migration will never affect them!

    Venise @ 12:-
    Here’s an idea we could support… all the creationists actually respecting the creation of their god(s)…
    A number of the ‘religious’ are trying to light this flame. Perhaps atheists (including myself) could focus on the need to ameliorate climate change, rather than worry about the differences we hold re deities.

    Roger @2, 12,17, 21 (etc)-
    Here’s and idea. We limit the use of coal to steel-making in the interim, ie we limit steel-making to essentials only (EG: We need to be able to sharpen knives, but we don’t need steel forks and spoons. Then we make discovering an alternative to the current process an R+D priority whilst the changes we need to make are made.

    Not impossible when you think about it. Just takes some compromise and will

    Back to Plimer… So – now he’s fully exposed himself as an exponent of the ‘I’m alright Jack’ and ‘Devil Take The Hiindmost’ camps… perhaps it’s time to turn up the heat on this selfish, greedy and stupidly dangerous fcuknuckle!

  2. Tyger Tyger

    How does saying that because you need coal to make steel, you therefore can’t develop a more sustainable economy, even qualify as an argument? It’s moronic.

    Given he places so much importance on steel-making, how does he propose future generations are going to do it once, as Lord Muck @30 rightly points out, we’ve burnt all that coal to boil water to run generators?

    The claim that wind and solar use more energy than they’ll ever generate is equally moronic, given the more renewable energy comes on stream, the more out-of-control fossil fuel-burning costs come down. To blame dying technologies for adding costs to burgeoning ones is laughable. No doubt having to transport materials to early automobile factories via barges and horse and cart was pretty costly at the time, too. Not to mention that renewables technology is not static and costs are coming down all the time while efficiencies improve.

    As to, “We are in the best times to have ever lived on planet Earth…” No doubt that’s true in many ways. But what of the consequences? The rabid right always bangs on about “mortgaging the future” when a government incurs any debt (even when, as in 08-9, it’s done to avoid a severe economic downturn) yet justifies leaving it’s descendants to deal with the mess we leave behind because we don’t want to stop the party.

    Finally, the idea that we either stick to business as usual or go back to living in caves is risible. We move on as we’ve always done. New technologies are developed and improved and the old ones die. That’s progress, Ian. The surest way back to the cave is to stand in its way.

  3. Tyger Tyger

    Kevin Herbert @36, it’s not that difficult to find things on the net, but just this once I’ll do the work for you:

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/accurate-answers-professor-ian-plimer

    Ditto @38: That depends on a lot of factors, Kevin. To begin with, if the $531 billion a year spent by governments worldwide on fossil fuel subsidies were redirected to renewables, storage systems and creative ways of solving the intermittency problem like using solar to hydrolyse water, thus producing hydrogen for fuel cells, the answer to your question would be: a lot faster than it’s happening now. Even without such reforms, the economics of renewables is such that utilities are already facing up to the fact that solar and wind are fast becoming cheaper than fossil fuels and worrying about stranded assets and antediluvian business models. (That’s the smart ones. The dumb ones, Canute-like, are using their power to lobby politicians to stymie the growth of renewables by ripping off household solar customers, killing the RET, calling wind turbines “those things”, spreading demonstrably false nonsense about the health effects from said turbines, and the list goes on.) If you’re interested, check out renew economy.com.au and see what power utility executives all over the world are saying on that hot little topic.
    Another development that is being seen as a potential tipping point is Tesla’s plan to invest US$4-5 billion dollars in a lithium-ion battery “gigafactory” with the objective of cutting battery prices by 30% in three years and halving them by 2020. It’s being talked about as potentially having the same impact as Ford’s model T, which halved the price of U.S. cars thanks to the mass production techniques pioneered by that company. At the turn of the 20th century, people said the car was an interesting novelty but it would never replace the horse and cart. Sound familiar? Had you paid attention to more than just one of my “strident” claims, you might have noticed I spoke about how technology doesn’t stand still. Conservatives yes, technology no.

    Since we’re speaking of stridency, what was your reaction to this little beauty?

    “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.”

    It’s a cracker, innit! I should hope to be so hysterical.

  4. Roger Clifton

    Kevin Herbert alone has had the courage to address the question, “how will we make steel without fossil carbon?”.

    So how would you replace fossil fuels? By all means try to answer the question without saying “nuclear”. If you were instead to use the salesman’s term, “natural gas”, you would be committing us to leak methane into the greenhouse. Fossil gas is the backup implied in the concept of “wind-and-solar”.

    The necessary word is “replace”. When we echo our cowardly leaders in using the weasel word, “reduce”, let’s remember that we will be condemned for what we emit — without remission for what we don’t.

  5. Reechard

    Pilmer is a clown.
    That some in this government holds him up as some wunderkind authority is utterly beyond understanding and a cause of great despair to intelligent, thinking and caring people.
    It is sad and frustrating that at this stage of the play, so few people appear to be aware of the potential of the Beyond Zero Emissions plans which demonstrate how Australia could have a ZERO carbon energy industry within 10 years.
    It relies on Concentrated Solar Thermal with Hot Salt Storge for Base Load Power, combined with Wind (Hockey’s Horrors!!) and some BioMass.

    It would require an upgraded power distribution network.
    To build this will cost us approx 3% of GDP perannum for approx 10 years. At the moment we pay about 5% of our GDP as an indirect cost of burning Filthy Fossil Fuels.
    The benefits are many.
    Clean, CO2 free energy.
    Unending supplies thereof..
    No need to build anymore coal, gas or nuclear plants.
    Shutting down those already running.
    No dependence on Fossil Fuels.
    Revitalisation of the economy.
    Revitalisation of Rural Australia.
    Significant expanded employment for above.
    Potential HUGE O/S markets for our electricity.
    http://www.bze.org.au … I have no financial interest. I donate.

    Only people who suffer?? The purveyors of the dirty fuels. Coal mining is becoming increasingly mechanised, even as they plan to dig up and burn enough coal to snuff out life as we know it on this planet.

    Incidentally, I know for a fact that Julie Bishop outright “denied” on Radio National, the availability of this technology (other than Filthy Fossil Fuels) even after being briefed on it.

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