Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
The following is a statement prepared by a group of climate scientists in response to the recent announcement of cuts by CSIRO. It was released today at lunchtime by scientists attending the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society 2016 Conference.
We strongly believe that the proposed cuts to CSIRO (announced 4/2/16) will seriously undermine Australia’s capacity to respond to the challenges posed by climate change.
Some 100 positions are to be cut in CSIRO’s Ocean and Atmosphere Flagship as part of 350 lost positions across the organisation. This will cripple CSIRO’s climate research.
Australia is a continent surrounded by rapidly changing weather patterns, connected to a rapidly changing global climate. We have already learnt a great deal about our region’s climate, but urgently need to improve our understanding in important areas. Read the rest of this entry »
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?
We have been waiting for Cardinal George Pell to comment publicly on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ because it professes pretty much the opposite to Pell’s public omnipotence on all things climate change.
“It’s got many, many interesting elements. There are parts of it which are beautiful,” he says. “But the church has no particular expertise in science . . . the church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters. We believe in the autonomy of science,” added Cardinal Pell.
Fairfax journo Gareth Hutchens has an article in today’s Herald with the headline:
Well, it is April the first.
Hutchens has a go at the recent Chief Scientist and Australian Academy report: The importance of advanced physical and mathematical sciences to the Australian economy (pdf). They engaged the Centre of International Economics to conduct an economic analysis that used the MMRF-NRA computable general equilibrium model to estimate the impacts of a number of input assumptions on the contribution of the physical and mathematical sciences to the economy. The report estimates that the direct contribution of the advanced physical and mathematical sciences is
equal to 11% of the Australian economy (about $145 billion per year). Along with the direct contribution, the report estimates additional and flow-on benefits of another 11%, bringing total benefits to just over 22% (around $292 billion per year).
I felt I had to defend the report, which is not perfect but necessary (I think I also agree with the headline). In doing so I find myself in defence of CGE economic models (which I can’t quite believe I’m doing). Basically, Hutchens reckons that by engaging with an economic consultancy and an economic model, the Chief Scientist and Australian Academy of Science have prostituted themselves (my words) to the same economic lobbying that everyone else in Canberra uses to argue for government support. Here’s my response posted to the comments of the article (slightly edited – doesn’t seem to have made it through, either):
‘Wait and see’ on climate? No, the science is clear: act now
When should we act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change: now, or later when we know more?
One person who thinks we should wait is New York University theoretical physicist, and former US Under Secretary of Energy for Science, Steven Koonin.
In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, and reproduced in The Australian, Koonin claims that climate models are still too uncertain and that everyone should hold their horses, arguing that:
… because the natural climate changes over decades, it will take many years to get the data needed to confidently isolate and quantify the effects of human influences.
That’s not to say that the issue isn’t pressing. But Koonin says we should urgently do science, rather than urgently cut emissions:
The science is urgent, since we could be caught flat-footed if our understanding does not improve more rapidly than the climate itself changes.
Well, yes. But we’ve been doing this “urgent science” for decades. Read the rest of this entry »
The following is a long post, but on an important issue.
Frontiers is an open source science publisher based in Switzerland. Their aim is to provide an open access, open science platform that empowers researchers in their daily work and where everybody has equal opportunity to seek, share and generate knowledge. They have started up a whole host of “Frontiers in” journals covering a wide range of subjects. They have also been linked with the Nature publishing group who is interested in the open access model Frontiers is developing.
So I jumped at the opportunity to be an associate editor of the newly established area of Interdisciplinary Climate Studies. The Editor in Chief is the Swiss climatologist, Professor Martin Beniston. An associate editor invites a panel of reviewers who review a collection of articles each year. The associate editor establishes their interdisciplinary area with a “challenges” paper to set the ball rolling. Their task is to encourage researchers to submit innovative papers exploring the frontiers of knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »
Elaine McKewon book-ended my letter to the editors of Fairfax papers The Age and Sydney Morning Herald regarding the publishing of John McLean’s error-ridden piece on the IPCC (the editors, by the way, have not responded) with a terrific take down of McLean in Crikey.
She questioned McLean’s byline on the original article, to whit:
“John McLean is the author of three peer-reviewed papers on climate and an expert reviewer for the latest IPCC report. He is also a climate data analyst and a member of the International Climate Science Coalition.”
asking “But is that accurate? Who is John McLean? What qualifications entitle him to speak as an expert on climate science? What is the ICSC, and which groups, interests and agendas do McLean and the ICSC represent? What exactly does it mean to be an “expert reviewer” of IPCC reports?”