Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

What is public good research?

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When recently asked at a meeting with CSIRO scientists what he thought public good research was, their CEO Larry Marshall said:

“Anything that’s good for the public”

He then went on to say:

“Government policy, frankly, determines public good. That’s their decision. When they fund renewable energy, environmental science, education, health care, that’s a fundamental policy choice. It’s completely separate to us. National objectives, national challenges, is that not, a realistic measure of public good?”

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The other Marshall Plan

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Part of the debate about CSIRO funding and priorities, and public good research (PGR), is what public good research means. This confusion in part comes from different world views, but it also has specific economic and less specific philosophical meanings that need to be teased out and understood. Otherwise PGR will be a political football, subject to the politics of the day.

In Australia, we’ve already seen that happen in a number of areas of public good, such as climate change, the arts and the humanities, to name a few. Because they are not directly injecting cash into the economy (or are perceived slow down other areas of income generation), these areas are held to be uneconomic and a burden to the public purse. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

June 13, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Save CSIRO: the value of public good research

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Yesterday was hug a climate scientist day. Dear readers, you missed out if you didn’t get to one, because there were a whole bunch of climate scientists at the State Library of Victoria being very huggable. And other friends of CSIRO.

FoCSIRO

The Friends of CSIRO had a forum at the State Library of Victoria, moderated by Kate Auty. Senator Kim Carr spoke and announced that if elected, Labor would restore $250 million to the CSIRO budget, reversing the cuts currently underway. Adam Bandt science spokesperson from the Greens said they would would go further, investing slightly over $300 million, and boosting funds for R&D generally. Both were very welcome statements. Read the rest of this entry »

But is it just red noise?

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I gave a seminar yesterday at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales. Thanks Alvin Stone and Andrea Taschetto for organising it. It’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to go through the entire ‘step change’ hypothesis of how the climate changes, the theoretical background, structural models developed from that and how the testing was set up, prior to showing a whole raft of test results.

One of the questions I got at the end, which also comes up quite often in the literature, was about the potential cause of the step changes in temperature data. It came from a question as to whether we had tested the step change model with artificial data that had been ‘reddened’ – that is, made dependent on the previous data. Such time series can have long-term persistence and contain a number of different quasi-periodic timescales, so do not conform to a single statistical model. This line of questioning alludes to whether a step or nonlinear response in a time series needs to be have an underlying cause that can be linked to an external source or whether it’s the result of random variations (see paper by Rodionov for a more more technical description). I gave a somewhat flip answer – because there is real energy in the system we are assessing (the climate system), whether a rapid shift is due to red noise or not matters less than understanding what that means for risk.

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Written by Roger Jones

May 29, 2016 at 8:35 pm

Friends of CSIRO

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In response to the recent threats to public good research in CSIRO, a Friends of CSIRO organisation has been set up with nodes in a number of states and Territories. Like the friends of the ABC, their role is to defend the public good and socially beneficial aspects of publicly-funded scientific research.

They have a Facebook page, so get over there and like that, and they have a web page, so get over there, have a look, join up and donate.

While you’re at it, the CSIRO Staff Association has published a whole heap on resources into their campaign to preserve those jobs including the so-called ‘deep dive’ exercise and job cuts including private emails that were intended to keep the whole process opaque. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

May 24, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Review of national climate science capability

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The Australian Academy of Science is conducting a review of Australian climate science capability and future requirements, in order to better understand the capabilities (including expertise and infrastructure) that are needed in Australia.

The review is being overseen by a steering committee, consisting of:

  • Professor Trevor McDougall (chair)
  • Associate Professor Julie Arblaster
  • Professor David Griggs
  • Professor Rod Keenan
  • Professor Neville Nicholls
  • Dr Graeme Pearman
  • Dr Helen Cleugh

The committee will conduct an extensive consultation program, both with organisations that conduct climate science research and individuals in the climate science community.  Although there are a wide range of fields that contribute to climate science and the response to climate change in Australia, the Academy feels that its expertise is best placed to examine the fundamental climate science capabilities – approximately those areas which would be included in the IPCC Working Group I report.

Institutions such as CSIRO, BoM, AIMS, CoE, TERN, IMOS have been notified of this review and have welcomed it.

More information on the review can be found at the Academy’s website. If you are a climate scientist working in an IPCC WGI-related field, please consider following the links on that website to download the consultation paper and make a submission.

Submissions from individuals are due by 5 June.

Written by Roger Jones

May 24, 2016 at 6:27 pm

End of the hiatus

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Understanding Climate Risk has been in something of a hiatus, or a pause for the last couple of years due your host being almost fully submerged, but maybe it’s time to rise to the surface and get things going again.

This is for a few reasons. One is that research, especially public good research and especially in CSIRO, is under serious threat in Australia. We have a government who tout innovation, but who wilfully ignore the role of the generation of underpinning knowledge in fuelling such innovation. They are interested only in commercial innovation – public-good innovation is not only being ignored, it is being excluded from processes such as the Cooperative Research Centre bids currently under way. Having sustainable cities, catchments and ecosystems is impossible without public good research and social innovation, with funding that extends across the sciences, the humanities and the arts. With an election going on, these harms need to be publicised. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

May 22, 2016 at 1:19 pm

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