Review of Not for Greens, by Ian Plimer (Connor Court Publishing, 2014).
In this entirely excellent book, Prof. Plimer answers three questions: What do geologists bring to the debate over climate change? What do environmentalists (“greens”) do that benefits either the environment or humanity? What would happen to the environment and to humanity if we outlawed the use of fossil fuels?
Regarding the first question, Plimer brilliantly explains why geologists, and only geologists, understand the history of climate change dating back to Earth’s creation; its myriad causes, cycles, and effects on weather and life on Earth; how today’s climate both differs from and is the same as climates past; and what role, if any, human activity (including the combustion of fossil fuels) may play in all of that.
Briefly put, geologists were studying climate change long before physicists started to speculate about the effects of carbon dioxide on temperatures. Geologists understand that changes in weather and average temperatures in recent decades pale into insignificance compared to changes on scales of millions, thousands, and even hundreds of years. As importantly, geologists know what we don’t know about the movement of carbon dioxide between reservoirs (terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric) and the effects of solar cycles and changes in ocean currents on temperature, precipitation, sea level, and life itself.