Jul 14, 2014

Get Fact: testing Ian Plimer on wind and solar power

Ian Plimer, an ally of Gina Rinehart, has written a new book criticising environmentalists and casting doubt on climate change. Renewable energy expert Dr Mark Diesendorf does some fact-checking.

No doubt Professor Ian Plimer is an expert geologist. He drew upon that knowledge in writing his well-known 1994 book attacking creationists, Telling Lies for God. Unfortunately his attempts to critique renewable energy in his new book Not for Greens demonstrate that he is out of his depth in this field. His treatment of renewable energy is mostly nonsense from start to finish.


Leave a comment

46 thoughts on “Get Fact: testing Ian Plimer on wind and solar power

  1. wbddrss

    I am very skeptical of ” the energy payback period (in terms of energy, not money) is actually three to nine months!”

    From my understanding of chemistry, all metals are energy intensive in their production. Even silicon wafer needs to be converted from SiO2 to Si using expensive energy that is subsidized. I personally don’t see this situation changing.

    On just the physics alone the more energy intensive as opposed to energy dispersed collection, must be cheapest because there is less infra structure to support it.

    But as even Jim Kramer said on TV, NUCLEAR HAS TURNED OUT TO BE THE MOST EXPENSIVE. A financial TV anchorman knows better because all this research is just rhetoric AND figures are self serving for & on behalf of industry practioners.

    If accountants & lawyers were to think that renewables would be cheaper, then we would all have nothing but renewables.

    The opposite is occurring, Germany is actually WIP going back to dirty brown coal to balance up closing down nuclear.(no URL, just wait & see.. all eyes on germany)

    Again all this costings just makes the word research ugly.


  2. @chrispydog

    Just for a taste of the kind of assumptions required to run 100% renewable, here’s one:

    24 GW of gas turbines running on biofuels

    (That’s approx half of Australia’s current total generating capacity)

    Anyone think that ‘smells’ funny?

    I rest my case.

  3. Thomas Stuart

    Dr Mark Diesendorf gives acknowledgement to Plimer’s expertise in “Telling Lies For God” but it may reflect agreement with the conclusions rather than an examination of the actual arguments. Reviews on that book reveal that Plimer similarly ventures beyond his expertise undermining the credibility of his conclusions … even when you agree with them.

  4. Thomas Stuart

    Here is a review of Plimer’s “Telling Lies For God” from the Amazon website … which by implication suggests that “Not For Greens” is just more of the same:
    “As a hobby, I follow the creation/evolution controversy. I read as many books as I can, from both sides. Having missed the media frenzy when Plimer’s book first came out, I only just got around to reading it. Frankly, it is possibly the worst response to creationists, and definately the worst book on science I have ever had the misfortune of reading.

    Plimer makes many, fundamental scientific errors, such as that sulfer is solid below 444 degrees C (p. 21), when this is actually the boiling point; that nuclear reactors are powered by alpha-decay through uranium 238 (p. 25) when nuclear reactors is actually fission of uranium 235 or plutonium 239; that the sun functions through the same process (alpha fusion) when it fuctions through fusion of hydrogen; that no item in science or technology has been developed by creationists (p. 12) when self-admitted creationist Dr. Raymond Damadian was the scientist who developed the MRI, Sir Ambrose Fleming developed the thermionic valve that enabled radio broadcasts to be made, Forrest M. Mims III developed am atmospheric haze sensor that even Scientific American itself admitted “could revolutionize this important field of study.”

    Plimer also claimed that Pi is 3.14159 (p. 18) when this is still an approximation; that camels hooves are not cloven (p. 17) when there is actually a pad between the hooves, meaning that the hoof is not completely divied; and manages to get racemisation backwards (p. 29-30). These mistakes could literally be multiplied by the hundreds. But my all-time favorite blunder continues to be when Plimer stated categorically that the english alphabet contains 23 letters (p. 224). Which three has Plimer decided not to use? And if you think that could just be a typo or fluke mistake, he repeats the same thing (emphasis, you know) in the very next line!

    Plimer also commits libel against the Creation Science Foundation (now Answers in Genesis), fabricating articles and papers which do not exist to smear AiG, calling creation science a “cult”, despite the fact that leading authorities on cultic activity called the claim misleading and without theological, psychological, or sociological support. Plimer has also made other false claims we won’t address.

    The book is replete with errors, false documentation, harsh language (i.e. creationism is a “bull**** reinforcer,” p. xiv; creationism is a “cult,” etc.) far beyond any creationist has ever said about evolutionists, false claims (i.e. CSF has deliberately lied, deceived, and fuctions through financial impropriety), and inuendo. As a further death mark, the book contains no index.

    Ultimately, this book, with its many errors, scientific and otherwise, can ironically be called a work of “pseudo-science” itself, a label Plimer pins on creationists.”

  5. Sancho

    Progressives exaggerating the effectiveness of renewables, and conservatives flat-out lying about it. Same old.

    Easily the most fascinating comment so far is from Chrispydog, when he says:

    If solar was truly “cheaper than coal” then we’d be using it to replace coal.

    Those of us on the progressive side of this debate often wonder if the denialists are mendacious or simply gullible. In this case it appears the latter, because it’s hard for anyone who understands what actually happens in the real world to make, with such unknowing irony, such a credulous, black-is-white statement that flies not only in the face of available facts, but contradicts the actions of the entire fossil fuel lobby.

    The answer is no, Chrispy. Ensuring that the world doesn’t switch to renewables despite their effectiveness is the entire point of the argument. It’s the entire point of the oil industry spending billions of dollars on propaganda, the entire point of the Abbott government’s wasteful pandering to fossil fuel corporations, and, of course, the entire point that Plimer was paid to justify with this book.

  6. PDGFD1

    Thank you Dr. Diesendorf… you’ve saved me a great deal of work… not to mention the price of Plimer’s book.

    Will be more than happy to purchase your ‘rebuttal’ book, should you and your associates write one (Hint, hint…)

  7. PDGFD1

    Oops…. and there it is (the book)… off to grab one!

  8. PDGFD1

    Oh C’mon Crispydog
    “No country has reduced emissions to such low levels without nuclear, and none will, because civilisation is built on dense energy sources. It’s maths.”

    ‘Civilisation’ appears to be causing climate change.

    Nuclear… why do people insist on going ‘back to the future’?? 10,000 years half life toxic waste issue, that’s just a new problem (and no… I won’t bother with the greed/human error aspect re accidents).

    It seems pretty clear to anyone pragmatic, and interested in having a genuine new industrial revolution, that we will need some coal (preferably gas) whilst we make the necessary transition to RE.
    Unless we find alternatives to coke for steel manufacture (and the like), we will probably have some coal for a while yet.

    Basically, we need to minimise our use of fossil fuels asap.
    Perhaps a few of these contracts to sell Australian gas overseas (and in liquid form… stupidly wasteful) should be stopped, so we can actually use our gas while the transition is made.
    Utopian perhaps in the current political climate, but pragmatic.

  9. PDGFD1

    Wbddrss @19
    “A financial TV anchorman knows better because all this research is just rhetoric …”

    No it’s not. Moreover, without adequate research geese like Plimer and Monkton would completely hold sway.

    “If accountants & lawyers were to think that renewables would be cheaper, then we would all have nothing but renewables.”

    I can reliably inform you that neither accountants nor lawyers are likely to have any knowledge whatsoever in this area.

  10. wbddrss

    Is this green enough for everyone. Cut out the subsidies. Burn the coal. May the cheapest source of energy stand on its own two feet.

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details