There are down sides to success. Australia’s national science industry has announced that, as far as they’re concerned, there is no longer any doubt that climate change exists — so they will no longer be funding research that seeks to prove it. They will, however, employ scientists to lessen its effects.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, or CSIRO, recently put out a news release full of terms that employees dread. It includes terms phrases like “embrace change”, and “pick and choose where to prioritise”. Soon rumours were flying about exactly how many people were not going to be a priority, and why.
The 'why', Nature reported, was, in some ways, the result of victory. CSIRO considered the existence of climate change proved — as well as it could ever be — and wanted to begin studying how to minimise it and mitigate its effects; it would switch its focus away from basic climate science. Understandably, CSIRO scientists were upset, for both personal and scientific reasons.
Yesterday, CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall released a second statement. This one included the phrases “spirit of openness”, “made redundant”, and “choices about what to exit”. Although some people will be retraining and moving to different departments, up to 350 people will be leaving the centre.
Marshall also clarified why the shift is happening. “We must weigh up where we can have the greatest impact and where Australia has the greatest need,” he wrote. “No one is saying climate change is not important, but surely mitigation, health, education, sustainable industries, and prosperity of the nation are no less important. CSIRO is working on tomorrow.”
He also points out the centre’s limited resources, and the need to decide how to use them. We’re interested in what you think. Is it time to declare that climate change is an established fact and start working on ways to ameliorate its effects? And, if so, is the best way to do this by shifting away from basic climate science and towards technology and prevention? Or is this kind of shift removing both scientists’ ability to convince the public of climate change, and their ability to understand what they’re dealing with? [Via Nature]