Friday, December 08, 2006

Prof. Jon Jenkins MLC, Australia's most poorly-informed skeptic?

One expects elected representatives to at least attempt to acquaint themselves with reality before weighing in on scientific matters. Australia’s very own Inhofe, NSW MLC Jon Jenkins, gives the impression that he’s a bit of a Moncton-style climate-change expert. A slayer of consensus, if you will.

After being the subject of ridicule at RealClimate, Jenkins has moved on to the stratospheric realms of the Crikey letters page. Thing is, upon reading his piece, I really, really hope he has nothing to do with monetary policy, cause numbers just aren’t his strong point.

Jenkins opines:
Is climate change actually happening, if so has it caused any damage and are human emissions of CO2 the cause? On the first question the answer is probably yes,
The answer is definitely yes. Climate is never static over time. However, the rate of change in recent times is very high, and no ‘natural’ factor appears to account for it.
the overall global temp appears to have risen about 0.5C
The overall global temp has risen by 0.6 ± 0.2°C. If you’re going to pick one figure, use 0.6°C.
and the oceans about 10mm over the past century.
Wrong, and out by at least an order of magnitude. Oceans have risen by 100 to 200 mm over the past century, not 10 mm.
As to the second the answer is probably no specifically referring to hurricane activity mentioned by McHugh the actual frequency of severe hurricanes is less now than it has been in the past.
What the…? Anyway:

Wrong. Intense hurricanes are occurring more often in the Atlantic (the most studied basin) and world-wide, with the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes doubling over the past 35 years.
Only 4 "highest category" storms have occurred in the last 10 years!
Wrong. In the past ten years seven category five hurricanes have occurred in the Atlantic basin alone, not four (presumably Jenkins is referring to Atlantic and not world-wide occurrences). They are: Mitch, Isabel, Ivan, Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
This year not a single storm hit the US anywhere! What was that about more severe storms again?
Jenkins appears unable to understand how trends work. One year of no hurricanes is great, but proves nothing. No one has even implied that ‘natural’ factors don’t impact on hurricane frequency and intensity.

Let’s see what happens over the next ten years before jumping to conclusions.
As to the final question: In the 2003/4 survey conducted of the world's top 600 climatologists, Professor Dennis Bray of the German Institute for Coastal Research found the following: Less than 1 in 10 (9.67%) of the world's top climatologists strongly agreed that the recent warming was caused by human activity.
The survey was actually an anonymous on-line questionnaire with the access password posted on denialist websites. It was not a survey conducted of the world’s top 600 climatologists.
This is confirmed in the most recent survey of the scientific literature in 2005 by Prof. Benny Peiser of Liverpool's John Moores University who analysed the same set of 1,000 documents [cited by Naomi Oreskes and Gore] -- and concluded that: "only one-third backed the consensus view, while only 1% did so explicitly.
Peiser’s study was deeply flawed and has been fully debunked. Andrew Bolt tried the same trick and got done by MediaWatch only this year for citing the study as fact. Presumably Jenkins knew this.
Sounds like an open and shut case to me!
That Jenkins isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed? I agree.

Disappointed, NSW voters, disappointed.