Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Monbiot versus Plimer: Round 1

Just as the Aussie cricketers have rallied to deliver a damn good thrashing to floundering England, Ian Plimer has responded to George Monbiot's questions.

It is a response though that is harder to read than one of Warne's googlies. Plimer has sent Monbiot a list of questions that if nothing else make the mind boggle. They consist of a series of increasingly bizarre and probably nonsensical requests for Monbiot to make a series of calcualations "from first principles" and including all data used.

The Internet is currently buzzing (well humming slightly) with baffled warmists trying to figure out what Plimer's grand strategy is. One theory is that he is using the famous Chewbacca defence as featured in a certain South Park episode.

Perhaps it's an act of desperation, perhaps he's playing to his fans who are convinced he has a brain the size of a planet, perhaps he's taking the piss. Who knows?

Monbiot's repost is "you're asking the wrong person" which is a bit lame though. Surely the answer is 42?

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Stuff Wot I Like: Jefferson Airplane

I have be a bit careful what I say sometimes as the eco-warriors I've hung around with over the years have tended to be a fairly punkish lot. At Wild Garlic if you were caught playing a penny whistle you were likely to see it nailed to a tree, and if you hummed a Bob Dylan song the same was likely to happen to you. However my tastes have always been much more hippyish and largely formed by the decade before I was born.

Actually the 'sixties' really began in about 1966 and ended in about 1974, so I was born slap bang in the middle, and the band that can most surely claim to be the most hippyish of them all was at its peak during this time.

Okay so The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, the Doors and The Who may have been better musically, but they just didn't walk the walk the same way as Jefferson Airplane. Songs about sex, drugs and flying saucers, a hot hippy chick on lead vocals who was sleeping with most of the band, an acrimonious split up and reincarnation, Spinal Tap style, as a second rate heavy metal band all make Jefferson Airplane the flower power band to measure all flower power bands by.

They played Woodstock, although their performance being delayed to the next morning sort of took the edge of things: great moments in psychedelia don't happen at eight in the morning. They courted controversy when a comment about a mud encrusted audience being "dirty jewels" was misheard as something anti-Semitic (as opposed to just pretentious). They were seen as being far more radical than they were: "Volunteers" sounds like it's calling on the fans to join the Viet Cong but was really inspired by a refuse collection lorry. And yet they still produced great music.

Perhaps only Crosby, Stills and Nash stand comparison in the league of all time hippy bands. Indeed, if you want to rouse a couple of old hippies to a heated debate (a very laid back heated debate admittedly) you could ask who's version of "Wooden Ships" is the best (the song was joint written so both are considered the original). Listen to the Airplane version in a chilled out mood and you can almost smell the weed. Listen to it in the wrong mood and you're bored before the end of the second verse.

So as fragile as a sand mandala, as coherent as an acid trip and as hippy as Donovan's paisley shirt, I present Jefferson Airplane.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Fight of the Year: Monbiot v Plimer

Any antipodeans who are watching the Ashes in the hope of seeing the usual slaughter of the England lemmings must be a little disappointed, but if you want your fill of defenceless animals being led to the slaughter the speactalce is still on offer in the form of Monbiot versus Plimer; a debate coming to somewhere, sometime.

George Monbiot is a legend in his own lunchtime, a fellow veteran of the Direct Action protests of the 1990s. Our paths never actually crossed as whilst I was hiding in slimy northern tunnels he was proudly proclaiming in parts of the home counties that This Land Is Ours. He is now Britain's foremost environmental columnist by a considerable margin.

Plimer is Ian Plimer, a hitherto unknown Australian geologist who has written a book called Heaven and Earth - Global Warming: the Missing Science. He is a climate change denier and less charitable people than myself might suggest that 'the missing science' refers to the numerous errors in his thesis.

In his book Plimer claims arctic ice is expanding and that volcanoes produce more carbon dioxide than humans. On the way he also claims that we orbit the core of a supernova explosion - which would make the sun a neutron star or black hole, and that termite farts are more potent to greenhouse gases than the emissions of 6 billion fossil fuel consuming humans.

There's more, and more, and more.

Anyone following that link will find 38 pages of why Plimer is wrong.

However this hasn't stopped Plimer becoming the poster boy of climate change deniers and the cover story for our own Spectator magazine last month. Judging by what they've written about the book I would presume the Spectator is the traditional sort of publication thta only employs chaps from good schools who studied classics and doesn't let grubby scientists over their threshold.

Somewhere along the line Plimer got a bit cocky and challenged our George to a debate. Monbiot initially turned him down, not wanting to share a platform with a man who can pull imaginary statistics out of a hat, some of which can take up to a minute on Google to prove wrong. However Monbiot had second thoughts and agreed to the debate provide Plimer answered some written questions on some of the more startling claims in his book.

Plimer initially turned the challenge down but then, possibly because word of his refusal to answer questions had got as far as his Wikipedia entry, he accepted. Monbiot printed his 11 questions in the Guardian today.

I don't know if the debate will ever actually happen, but if it does it will probably be a lot less interesting than Plimer's response to these questions. Some, like the termite gaff, he could just claim are typos, but I don't know how he will get round the others.

Like most deniers our antipodean friend enjoys playing the outlaw martyr and in picking a fight with Monbiot this would be Ned Kelly may be about to make his last stand. Is his armour up to it?

Watch this space.