Much fuss about the cuts at CSIRO climate research. This reminds me of a less serious situation 10, or perhaps 15 years ago, when cuts were proposed – I can’t recall if they actually happened – due to a conversation somewhat like:
Scientists: Global Warming is Real!
Government: OK, we believe you’re, we going to stop funding you looking for it.
Scientists: Oh wait, we didn’t quite mean it that way.
Cue today: as the Graun puts it In the email to staff on Thursday, Marshall said that since climate change was proven to be real, CSIRO could shift its focus.
Before I go further, to avoid confusion, I should say that for much of this I’m with Robert Wilson it has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to help make it worth defending. So it is possible to quibble many things – Cape Grimm CO2 monitoring for example: do we really need it, since we have Mauna Loa and others, and anyway we already know CO2 is going up. But really all that stuff is pretty cheap anyway, provides useful and interesting work for a variety of people, and makes the country a better place. OTOH, just as Controlled Washington, D.C. Wildfires are Crucial For Restoring a Healthy Political Environment science funding needs to be shaken up every now and again to stop people getting fat and lazy and blinkered.
But although Australia will lose some stuff of local relevance (VV points out why local stuff may well be useful), really most climate science is inevitably global; you can study the effects of El Nino on Australia but if you want to understand the mechanisms you need to look at least the whole tropics, and probably globally. Climate science is a public good, which is why governments fund it, but there’s the inevitable free-rider problem. Which in this case appears to be met with the usual free-rider response: disapproval from one’s peers, and loss of respect. Whether that will help is another matter.
* The gutting of CSIRO climate change research is a big mistake – John Abraham in the Graun (note errors; they aren’t “slashing hundreds of jobs”; note grotesque hyperbole, “CSIRO is also a modeling superpower. Their climate models form the backbone of our understanding of what changes have happened and what changes will happen because of human greenhouse gases” is silly).
* Apparently climate science can stop now – better late than never I guess 🙂