Paul Sheehan has read a book by Professor Ian Plimer, and is now an expert on the (natural) causes and (beneficial) effects of global warming, not least because "the book's 500 pages and 230,000 words and 2311 footnotes are the product of 40 years' research and a depth and breadth of scholarship."
By contrast, Einstein's 1905 paper On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies comprises roughly 7,000 words, and has only nine footnotes. Pilmer's accomplishment clearly puts Einstein in the shade.
Of course, if we were to compile all the words, pages, and footnotes that suggest that Plimer is wrong, they'd dwarf his magnum opus like an elephant dwarfs a dust mite. Which just goes to show you that sheer bulk is not always the best way to gauge the accuracy of scientific papers. It just so happens that Plimer's book is voluminous and heavily footnoted because it's correct, while the myriad papers reflecting the consensus view are voluminous and heavily footnoted because they're the product of conformity. That's the kind of detail you're liable to miss unless you have a science-savvy guide like Sheehan.
Plimer is a mining geologist. This makes him uniquely qualified to assess the climate, because, as he notes, "an understanding of climate requires an amalgamation of astronomy, solar physics, geology, geochronology, geochemistry, sedimentology, tectonics, palaeontology, palaeoecology, glaciology, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, archaeology and history," and Plimer is presumably pretty well versed in roughly half of these subjects. Unlike "atmospheric scientists, who have a different perspective on time," Plimer understands that the earth has been around for many years. And unlike "catastrophists," Plimer knows that "depopulation, social disruption, extinctions, disease and catastrophic droughts take place in cold times...and life blossoms and economies boom in warm times." (Apparently, you can add paleo-economics to the list of disciplines at which the climate researcher must excel.)
Reading a book of 500 pages is thirsty work, especially if you have to master astronomy, solar physics, geology, geochronology, geochemistry, sedimentology, tectonics, palaeontology, palaeoecology, glaciology, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, archaeology, and history before you can form a valid opinion on it. Fortunately, Sheehan has boiled it down to the essentials:
- The world is getting warmer, but in a good way.
- Bitches don't know bout the sun.
- CO2 is life!
- The climate is incredibly complicated, so it's impossible to predict what it'll do in the future (unless thy name be Plimer, in which case it's fairly light work, and your prediction that global warming will "bring prosperity and longer life" is almost certainly correct).
- Not only is there no evidence that human activity can warm the climate, there's plenty of "validated knowledge" that it says it can't.
- Computer models are unreliable, so it's a good thing we have this book by Plimer that explains exactly what they'd say if they were accurate.
Just because Plimer is one brave man standing alone against the forces of conformity, don't go getting the idea that he's an "isolated gadfly." Lots of scientists agree with him, more or less. And not in that bad way that scientists who believe that CO2 is a greenhouse gas agree with each other. Plimer's colleagues agree with each other in — how shall I put this? — in a subtle articulative way, partaking — or not partaking, rather — of...of...that essential weltschmerz, as it were, which views clothing and medicine and automobiles as so many cold obstetrical devices that've pulled humanity from the womb of the earth, and motivates so many soi-disant "scientists" to position themselves on the anti-prosperity and pro-extinction side of the debate. In short, they agree with each other because it's the correct thing to do.
The main thing, Sheehan notes, is not to fall prey to conformity and orthodoxy. Obviously, this doesn't mean that you should embrace the heavily footnoted work of Matthias Rath, or David Irving, or — God forbid — Ward Churchill. In some fields, conformity and orthodoxy remain comparatively respectable. But when it comes to climate science, the scientific and moral high ground will always belong to a tiny minority of militant crackpot optimists, just as surely as life blossoms when carbon dioxide rises.