It’s hard to speak truth to power. Scientists can talk about science, sure, but politicians have little time, training or appetite for hearing the truth. On this day in 2011 Australian Chief Scientific Advisor Penny Sackett, quit her post, having been ignored on climate change (only met Rudd once, wasn’t on the huge delegation to Copenhagen, had just been stood up by Julia Gillard).
See the Sydney Morning Herald’s account.
See a 2008 profile of her when she was new in post…
Also on this day –
The climate issue had burst into life again in late 2006, and already some Liberals were publicly pushing back. Nick Minchin would of course play a key role in the overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader in November 2009, over Turnbull’s willingness to help pass Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme…
Topsfield, J. 2007 Costello and Minchin split on climate change. The Age, 19 February.
DIVISIONS continue to emerge within the Government over climate change, with Treasurer Peter Costello yesterday disagreeing with Finance Minister Nick Minchin over whether the extent that humans were to blame for global warming was in doubt.
“I think the scientific evidence is now accepted, and that is that climate change is occurring, that human activity is leading to carbon emissions, which is slowly leading to an increase in temperature,” Mr Costello told Channel Ten. “I don’t think that’s in dispute any more.”
On this day ten years ago the chief of the CSIRO’s division of energy technology explained what many already suspected- research that was inconvenient to industry might not see the light of day… This report comes a year minus a day after, for example, Mark Diesendorf’s article in the Canberra Times (see tomorrow’s post). There’s a paper to be written on the long brutal and depressing history of climate science advice and Australian policy-makers…. #afterthethesis…
Beeby, R. 2007. Industry can gag research: CSIRO. Canberra Times, 15 February.
The CSIRO has confirmed coal industry bodies have the power to suppress a new report questioning the cost and efficiency of clean-coal carbon capture technologies because they partly funded the research. Dr David Brockway, chief of CSIRO’s division of energy technology, told a Senate estimates committee hearing yesterday it was ”not necessarily unusual” for private- industry partners investing in research programs – such as Cooperative Research Centres – to request reports be withheld from public release if findings were deemed to be not in their best interests. His comments followed questions by Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne regarding the release of an economic assessment by a senior CSIRO scientist of a new carbon capture technology to reduce greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power stations
Also on this day – Yet another ‘Kyoto ratification will cause the sky to fall” claim…
AAP. 2005. Signing Kyoto ‘counter-productive’. The Age, 14
Australia’s energy-efficient exporting industries would be penalised under the Kyoto Protocol, Environment Minister Ian Campbell said today. He said it was counter-productive to the cause of curtailing man-made climate change to prevent Australia exporting its high-quality energy products and low-emissions technology.
Hmm, at some point I will write on the history of chief scientists and climate change in Australia – it is an interesting tale, dating all the way back to the first one, in the late 1980s…
But for now; on this day a year ago, the estimable Lenore Taylor reported that the outgoing chief scientist, Ian Chubb, reckoned that tougher emissions targets were inevitable [in the long run, perhaps – but in the long run, as Keynes said….] and that “hostility towards climate science may be easing but scientists still have a duty to offer unflinching advice.”
Taylor, L. 2016.Outgoing chief scientist Ian Chubb says tougher greenhouse gas targets inevitable. The Guardian, 19 January.
Meanwhile, 24 years previously, on 19th January 1992, Dr Graeme Pearman, then co-ordinator of the CSIRO’s climate change research program said that there was little doubt that climate change (or to be more specific what we nowadays call anthropogenic global warming) was a reality and that those doubting it were gambling with the future of the world.
Well, Pearman went on to head the CSIRO’s Atmospheric Research Division, before finally succumbing to the horror that was the Howard government’s attitude to climate science (more on that later).
Anon, 1992. Greenhouse cynics gambling with future. Canberra Times, 20 January.