The release of Heaven and Earth by climate warming-sceptic, Ian Plimer, is not the giant conspiracy that some are suggesting.

But it is a cute insight into the way conservative commentators are starved for shreds of evidence to support their theories and how a small backroom publisher can easily satisfy their needs.

The small Victorian company, Connor Court, pulled off a coup on the weekend, achieving loads of publicity for Professor Plimer’s new book thanks to several commentators who leapt on it and keenly repeated its assertions that the dire fears of global meltdown were vastly overstated.

Miranda Devine wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that “Plimer’s book, accessible as it is to the layperson, will help redress the power imbalance between those who claim to own the knowledge and the rest of us.”

Some in the bloggersphere quickly concluded this publicity was the result of a conspiracy because only conservative commentators received review copies. While it is broadly true that only a select few were sent copies, it is not quite the orchestrated marketing campaign they make out.

For example, there was no PR company involved and no sophisticated marketing strategy. Instead, Anthony Cappello, the publisher of the family owned company hit the phone and rang his mates. The fact that he is well connected with the conservative media was his greatest asset, along with the fact that his contacts are desperate for a counter view on global warming.

As Cappello puts it: “The media was happy (to publicize the book) because here, at last, someone is saying something different. At last we can have some debate.” He adds, ‘You can’t ignore Plimer, he’s a well respected scientist.”

Cappello says the success is also due to all the pre-publicity he’s been doing since September, although again this seems to have been targeted mostly at the right. The fact that the book was late also “added to the anticipation.”

“Poor old Michael Duffy (of Radio National’s Counterpoint) has been wanting it since October,” says Cappello.

It seems that the entire conservative community has been eagerly awaiting its arrival. Cappello has lined up the Institute of Public Affairs for a launch in Melbourne (which is apparently fully booked). Cappello says his friend, Gerard Henderson, has agreed to host a launch at his Sydney Institute later in the year. Another launch is organised and fully booked for Parliament House in Adelaide. Meanwhile Capello is looking for a pub to host his Brisbane launch. Why a pub? Because he knows that with all the pre-orders coming from Queensland, he’ll be able to fill a pub easily and it’s much cheaper if everyone buys their own drinks.

The website of the four-year old Connor Court company is linked to several conservative causes, although noticeably absent is the National Civic Council. As Cappello puts it, the NCC “hates him” because he was chucked out five years ago when he was working as its publisher. At the NCC’s Freedom Press he published conservatives such as David Flint. At Connor Court it’s the likes of Cardinal George Pell with others such as Tony Abbott, Peter Costello and Frank Costa stepping in to do the launches.

The conservatives have a new friend in publishing, but more importantly they have new evidence to fuel their skepticism. Judging by Piers Akerman’s appearance on Insiders on the weekend, they could do with some. When Akerman excitedly reported that one side of the Antarctic is actually growing in size and not melting — and when he was corrected and told it was on the other side — he protested that in the Antarctic the east and west depend on where you’re standing.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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