By Roger Jones
4 February 2016
(The Conversation) – CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) is facing another round of job losses to basic public research, with the news that the organisation is making deep staffing cuts to areas such as Oceans and Atmosphere and Land and Water. Internally, there are signals that Oceans and Atmosphere will be cut substantially, amid 350 job losses over two years across the organisation.
In a letter to staff, CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said:
CSIRO pioneered climate research … But we cannot rest on our laurels as that is the path to mediocrity. Our climate models are among the best in the world and our measurements honed those models to prove global climate change. That question has been answered, and the new question is what do we do about it, and how can we find solutions for the climate we will be living with?
This letter reveals a lack of insight about what climate models are for and how they can be used. Their job was not to “prove” that the climate was likely to change and that we had to respond. Their main role is to understand how the climate system works and then to use that knowledge to manage risk, make decisions and improve productivity.
Of course the question of whether humans are changing the climate has been unequivocally answered in the affirmative. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty more questions to answer. After the federal government was so widely criticised under Tony Abbott for frequently calling climate science into question, it is ironic now to make those same climatologists redundant on the basis that their work is done and dusted. [more]