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Monbiot-Plimer debate background

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UK Guardian columnist George Monbiot is a high-profile disseminator of information on global warming and advocate for action to prevent it.

Australian geologist Ian Plimer is a high-profile critic of the science of global warming and author of a best-selling book, Heaven and Earth[1].

After Monbiot dismissed a flattering article on Plimer in the Spectator, Plimer challenged Monbiot to a debate:

The Guardian’s George Monbiot, who criticised this magazine’s decision to publish James Delingpole’s interview with me, should put his money where his mouth is — or is he just hot air? I am happy to fly to London at my expense to debate Mr Monbiot on ‘Humans induce climate change: myth or reality’.

Monbiot replied that public debates were usually useless, as the science denialist would simply use the "Gish gallop" - put out as many claims as possible and thereby make it impossible to counter them all live in the limited time available for a debate, but stated that if Plimer would agree to answer questions in an on-line format that Monbiot would pose to him, and agree to have a period of cross-examination time in the debate, Monbiot would agree to debate Plimer publicly:

I would take part in a face-to-face debate with him as long as he agreed to write precise and specific responses to his critics' points — in the form of numbered questions that I would send him — for publication on the Guardian's website. I also proposed that there should be an opportunity at the debate for us to cross-examine each other.

Plimer at first refused, but eventually agreed to answer questions from Monbiot. To date, Plimer has responded only with 13 questions (actually more like problems in a textbook) for the journalist.

George Monbiot responded to them as a group, as follows:

Fascinating as these questions doubtless are, I am unqualified to answer them. Unlike Ian Plimer, I make no pretence of being a climate scientist. I am a journalist, who, among other tasks, reports and comments on the findings of climate science. My answer to questions 1-13 is: "you're asking the wrong person".
According to an email cited by Monbiot of August 20, Plimer now wishes to debate on the Michael Medved radio show, instead of flying to London:

Dear Mr Monbiot,
I too have been away on field work.
Can you please give me an indication when I will get the
answers to my questions of science and why you will not
debate me on the Michael Medved radio show?
Kind regards,
Ian Plimer


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