Alan Jones roasted over a tiny number
Alan Jones copped an absolute roasting on tonight's episode of Q&A - despite not even being on the panel.
The radio shock jock was slammed by a panel of science experts for downplaying human impact on climate change, after he said we only contribute three per cent to greenhouse gas emissions during his own Q&A appearance last month.
"I saw the radio commentator Alan Jones on TV recently, and he said that 0.04 per cent of the world's atmosphere is CO2," the questioner said.
"'Three per cent of that human beings create around the world, and of that, 1.3 per cent is created by Australians'. Is that correct, and if so, is human activity really making a difference?"
Professor David Karoly, an Australian atmospheric scientist based at CSIRO, bluntly responded: "Not everything Jones says is factually accurate."
Prof Karoly said that, while it's correct that 0.04 per cent of the world's atmosphere is carbon dioxide, Jones' statistics around humans causing climate change - and the role Australians specifically play - are completely false.
"I am a climate scientist, and Alan Jones is wrong. The reason he's wrong is because we know that yes, the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere is 400 parts per million … and that corresponds to about 0.04 per cent.
"All his other numbers were wrong. We know that carbon dioxide concentration 100 years ago was about 280 parts per million, or 0.028 per cent, but it's grown 120 parts per million - or about 40 per cent - and that 40 per cent increase is due to human activity. We know that for absolute certain."
In other words, Prof Karoly was saying we've technically increased greenhouse gases by 40 per cent, not the three per cent figure Jones used.
The scientist also slammed the radio host for implying that Australians contribute a negligible amount to global warming.
"Australians have contributed about 1.5 per cent. Now that sounds like a small amount, but Australia only makes up 0.3 per cent of the population, and we're contributing 1.5 per cent roughly of greenhouse gases," said Prof Karoly.
"So is it fair that 0.3 per cent of the global population has contributed 1.5 per cent? We've contributed much more than our fair share."
Astrobiologist and geologist Martin Van Kranendonk questioned why Jones was commenting on climate science in the first place.
"If your car wasn't doing well, would you take it to a butcher? No, you'd take it to a mechanic. For the source of data on scientific matters I personally wouldn't go to Alan Jones. I'd look for the best-known sources for that material, and people I trust. I think that would be true for everyone."
"There's this perception that scientists are out there doing nefarious little tricks in a dark alley and concocting these models for fame and fortune and glory and money, and that's not at all how science works," he went on.
"All the people I know in science are passionate about understanding the natural world."
During his Q&A appearance in May, Jones questioned why climate change was a key issue in Australia. "What is climate change? … Young people are highly intelligent. They have many platforms from which they can (glean) their information and knowledge. I wonder whether they're being told all the facts in relation to this."
Particle physicist Brian Cox said people think the climate is overly "simple", which is a big part of the problem. "But actually, the climate is extremely complicated. These models are very, very complicated and constantly evolving.
"I think many people assume you can just work out what the climate's going to do, like it's common sense. But it's actually a very complex system."