NOT FOR GREENS
by Ian Plimer
(Ballarat, Vic: Connor Court)
Paperback: 290 pages
Reviewed by Peter Westmore
Ian Plimer is one of Australia’s leading geologists. After spending many years as a geologist in Broken Hill, he rose to become the professor of geology at Newcastle University, then the University of Adelaide, then head of the department of earth sciences at Melbourne University.
His combination of professional experience, academic knowledge and down-to-earth practicality gives him a unique perspective from which to examine the ideology of the Greens, one of the great utopian movements of the 20th and 21st centuries.
While geology would seem unconnected with climatology, the geological history of the earth has been shaped by its climate, so geologists are familiar with the way in which the earth’s climate has changed over aeons.
In his earlier book, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming: the Missing Science (2009), Ian Plimer examined the claims of those climate scientists who have argued that increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, due to human activity, have permanently changed the earth’s climate, and that the greenhouse effect has led to increased global temperatures, acidified oceans, droughts, wildfires, species annihilation, rising sea levels, melting icecaps, etc.
While recognising that the use of fossil fuels has increased CO2 levels by 25 per cent over the past two centuries, Professor Plimer found that there is no evidence that this has caused any of the claimed effects.
He pointed out that these are the predictions of computer models which have been shown to consistently exaggerate the impact of rising CO2 levels on the atmosphere. He said that CO2 is a trace gas in the atmosphere, comprising about one part in 2,500, and has only a minor impact on climate.
He also pointed out that the most recent sustained temperature rise took place between 1970 and 1996. But over the past 18 years, when CO2 levels have risen at the fastest rate in recent history, global temperatures have fluctuated, but there has been no net rise.
He dismissed predictions of imminent environmental catastrophe as alarmist propaganda, promoted by people who have a vested interest — professional and economic — in such claims.
In this new book, Not for Greens, Ian Plimer has a wider purpose: to examine the environmental and economic agenda of the Greens, and their impact on society. Following a foreword written by Canadian ecologist Patrick Moore, a co-founder (now ex-member) of Greenpeace, Plimer proceeds to examine a number of key issues on the Greens’ agenda, beginning with climate change. He then examines the impact of humanity on the environment, the importance of energy to human prosperity and happiness, and the Greens’ preoccupation with alternative energy, including solar, wind and bioenergy.
In all these areas, he demonstrates that the available sources of high-density energy, including coal, nuclear, gas and hydro-electricity, are far preferable to alternative energy sources, in terms of price, reliability and impact on both humanity and the environment.
Most interestingly, Ian Plimer turns his attention to the foundation of prosperity in contemporary society. He shows that we depend on the availability of a whole range of products — made from manufactured plastics, glass, steels and the like — which are available because of modern society’s capacity to produce high-quality manufactured goods at low cost.
He declares: “We are in the best times to have ever lived on planet earth, and the future will only be better.”
The Greens want the benefit of all this — including computers, the internet, TV, air travel, quality health care, education and pharmaceuticals, smartphones, SUVs, air-conditioning and the hundreds of other products which make life comfortable.
But they are vehemently opposed to the industries which make all this possible. In particular, they want to close down: 1) the mining industries, which produce the ores from which metals are extracted; 2) the oil industry, which produces petroleum and gas, fuelling our cars, trucks, ships and aircraft, as well as providing the chemicals used to manufacture hundreds of plastics; 3) much of the forestry industry, except for plantation timbers, making Australia dependent on imported timbers from third-world countries such as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia; and 4) coal-fired power stations.
The Greens would replace coal-fired power stations with so-called “clean energy”, e.g., electricity generated from wind and solar power. They would expand public transport and increase taxes on private motor vehicles, and demand that society cuts emissions of CO2, which they blame for “climate change”, the latest code words for global warming.
What makes the Greens so dangerous is that they are masters of balance-of-power politics, using their position to form coalitions with Labor governments — as we have seen in former Labor governments in Canberra and Tasmania — in which the governments implement part at least of their radical agenda.
Ian Plimer highlights the inconsistency — perhaps better described as hypocrisy — in the Greens’ economic agenda, and the damage which they are causing to society.
At the end of the book, he has an illuminating discussion of the humble stainless steel spoon, one of the hundreds of manufactured items which we use every day, and is typical of the goods which are the product of industries which the Greens want to shut down.
This book is a challenge to the Greens, and the vision they have for Australia and, more broadly, the world.It should be required reading for all Australians.