Jennifer Marohasy is an Australian biologist and libertarian who holds unpopular opinions on a range of important environmental issues.
Dr Marohasy’s response to a barrage of questions from the television program Media Watch can be downloaded here. A recent article by Dr Marohasy on the use of artificial intelligence for rainfall forecasting is here (Meteorological Technology International, August 2012, pages 26 -28).
Dr Marohasy has a Bachelor of Science and a PhD from the University of Queensland, worked for twelve years as a scientist for the Queensland government, then six years as environmental manager for the Queensland sugar industry, and then six years as a researcher at the Melbourne-based Institute of Public Affairs. She is currently a Research Fellow in the Centre for Plant and Water Science at Central Queensland University funded by the B. Macfie Family Foundation.
Dr Marohasy is sceptical of the consensus position on anthropogenic global warming. In her opinion there is no unifying theory of climate, the discipline is in its infancy and there are many drivers of climate change.
Jennifer Marohasy was born Jennifer Joyce Turnour in Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia in 1963. Her parents were farmers at Coomalie Creek near the uranium mine of Rum Jungle. They grew tomatoes and pasture seed, ran buffaloes and cattle.
She started school at Batchelor, but by second grade the family had sold up and left the Northern Territory in a Holden station wagon towing a caravan.
After nearly a year of travelling with many months spent in beach front caravan parks, the family moved into a house nestled in the Conondale ranges overlooking the headwaters of the Mary River. That home is now the community centre for the alternative lifestyle village of Crystal Waters.
After Conondale, Jennifer was sent to Clayfield College, a boarding school in Brisbane, and during school holidays visited her parents in diverse locations mostly overseas. She was later moved to Brisbane Girls’ Grammar school where she completed her HSC then went on to complete a science degree at the University of Queensland majoring in Botany and Entomology.
While at University Jennifer had a variety of jobs from interpreter for the Asian Development Bank in Indonesia to ‘bug checker’ on the Darling Downs in Australia.
On graduating she was employeed by the Alan Fletcher Research Station and within a couple of years was running their field station in Tulear in south west Madagascar. The success of the biological control project that she worked on in Madagascar is documented in ‘Reclaiming lost provinces: A century of weed biological control in Queensland’ (Queensland Dept of Natural Resources and Mines, 2005).
During the 1990s, Jennifer published in Australian and international scientific journals and completed a PhD.
In 1997 Jennifer switched from research to management taking up a position with the Queensland sugar industry.
In 2001, she became interested in environmental campaigns and, in particular, anomalies between fact and perception regarding the health of coastal river systems and the Great Barrier Reef.
In 2003, she signed a three year contract with the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) to work on Murray River issues. Her monograph ‘Myth and the Murray: Measuring the Real State of the River Environment’ is of enduring relevant and was published within the first six months of that appointment. Dr Marohasy has not worked for the IPA since late 2008.
During the recent drought in the Murray Darling she campaigned for 7.6 kms of concrete barrage separating the Murray’s Mouth and Coorong from the terminal coastal lakes, also known as the Lower Lakes, to be opened. She is appalled that both sides of Australian politics have policies that prevent the restoration of the Murray River’s estuary.
She is a foundation member of the Australian Environment Foundation and Myth and the Murray Group.
During 2002-2003 Jennifer documented her concerns with the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) ‘Save the Reef Campaign’ including the perverse influence of this campaign on public policy in a long review entitled ‘WWF Says Jump, Government’s Ask How High” and short piece for the IPA Review in March 2003 entitled, ‘Deceit in the Name of Conservation’.
During 2003-2006 she showed that CSIRO had misled the Australian public on Murray River salinity issues and featured in a Channel 9 TV documentary with Ross Coulthard ‘Australia’s Salinity Crisis: What Crisis’.
Dr Marohasy’s initial interest in global warming was to better understand water policy. After attending the ‘2008 International Conference on Climate Change’ in New York she was interviewed by Michael Duffy from Australia’s ABC Radio National and discussed the last 10 years of temperature data and also output from NASA Aqua Satellite (Climate Change, Michael Duffy, March 17, 2008)
This interview was the focus of an opinion piece by Christopher Pearson in The Australian (Climate facts to warm to, Christopher Pearson, March 22, 2008) which was subsequently picked up by Fox News (Cooling Effect, Brit Hume, March 24, 2008).
On April 7, 2008, Dr Marohasy received leaked email correspondence between an activist, Jo Abbess, and BBC Environment reporter Roger Harrabin. After posting the email exchange at her weblog this news was picked up by many UK and US bloggers and then various news outlets including CNN’s Glen Beck Show.
Dr Marohasy was invited onto Australia’s popular Television show Q&A where she attempted to explain to Tim Flannery that there are alternative climate change theories – alternative to anthropogenic global warming driven by carbon dioxide. You can watch the exchange here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M7R7fAfpsk&feature=related .
Dr Marohasy applies her formal training in the scientific method to better understand contentious environmental issues:
1. She notes what is being said publicly.
2. She looks to see whether public pronouncements are supported by the available evidence.
3. She looks for correlations, being careful to always distinguish between out-put from computer models as opposed to observational data.
4. She seeks advice from experts who supported the ‘consensus’ on AGW as well as ‘sceptics’.
5. She tries to understand the physical processes that might explain real world observations.
She tries to restrict her analysis and comment to the data – not what may or may not motivate people to come to particular conclusions.
During the 1990s Jennifer published scientific papers in International and Australian scientific journals and two book chapters including on weed biological control, insect and plant taxonomy, insect behavior, animal ecology and risk management. She wrote the first commodity specific code of practice endorsed under the Queensland Environment Protection Act 1994 and coordinated development of the sugar industry’s first best management practice manual.
She has recently published papers on freedom of information legislation with John Abbot in the British Law Journal, Environmental Law and Management, and on rainfall forecasting in Advances in Atmospheric Science a journal sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
She writes a fortnightly column for The Land newspaper.
Links to articles and lists of articles by Dr Marohasy can be accessed here: http://jennifermarohasy.com/publications/ .
Jennifer Marohasy has always been interested in the environment – how it can be farmed, mined and harvested for food, fiber, timber, minerals and energy and also how wildlife and wilderness areas can best be protected.
Jennifer describes herself as a utilitarian libertarian and her blog is listed at the Australian libertarian’s homepage. F.A. Hayek in his famous essay ‘Why I am not a Conservative’ explains the significant differences between Conservatives and the English Whig and the essay be extended to explain the difference between a Conservative and a Libertarian. Libertarians oppose all arbitrary power.
Picture of Jennifer Marohasy taken in 2008 when she lived in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.
Portrait of Jennifer Marohasy taken in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, in early 2006.
Black and White also taken in Brisbane, Qld, Australia, in early 2006.
One New Year’s Eve Jennifer decided to try life as ‘a brunette’, and dyed her hair black, but her family and friends had trouble recognising her so after about six months she went back to blonde.