Category Archives: Climate Change

When entrepreneurs run public agencies you get this.

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There is an uproar that began this week in Australia when the head of the top national research organisation, CSIRO, decided we don’t need no steenking climate change modeling. Those scientists and staff can change to engineers and start figuring out how to ‘mitigate’ the risk.

It didn’t take long until the worldwide climate science community came out in force to tell the ‘venture capitalist’ Marshall that he’s got it wrong.

( his history: http://www.brw.com.au/p/tech-gadgets/csiro_venture_partners_marshall_d0FTIiadQE6MbvRMveE2dL )

I normally don’t write to agencies. I usually write to ministers. In this case, I made an exception (along with copies to the relevant Ministers)

My letter to Dr Marshall:

To: Larry.Marshall@csiro.au
Subject: The CSIRO climate science debacle

Dear Dr Marshall

I don’t normally write to heads of agencies, but I had to make a change myself as the current situation is too important.

I read with deep concern your quotes in this ABC News article
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-11/csiro-boss-larry-marshall-defends-controversial-shake-up/7157650
regarding your interpretation of the reaction to the open letter from the scientists. Those of particular concern are:

– explaining to yourself that their outcry is because ‘they’re not going to want to change’. Sir, good science is completely about change. I see you’re an engineer and physicist by background. That explains much about your misunderstanding. You worked in a static discipline. You’ve been working in finance and business. You are being very condescending to those who are telling you that you are wrong.

– change as your justification. **Inclusion** of mitigation is, in my opinion, a good thing. We are at risk. It is important to assist those whose lives will be affected by the impact of extreme climate change — coastal areas, food production, energy use, building construction to name a few. However, it does not mean the models are static and complete. What if we had stopped developing and observing 30 years ago? Our models today would be wrong. How would we understand what is happening now? It’s not just about continuing to collect data. It’s about interpreting it, feeding it into the scientific community, testing hypotheses, and identifying the areas where mitigation is going to be required.

– equating the reaction to ‘religion’. ““In fact it almost sounds more like religion than science to me. “ On the contrary, you are hearing from professionals — worldwide — who are pointing out you are making a grave error. This is not a group of religionists, sir. These are some of the best minds in the world. I suggest you consider they may know a bit more than you about this area.

In closing, I don’t want you to take any time in responding to this email. What I ask you to do instead is to ramp up a bit of your own humility, think about the expertise of the people in the scientific community most involved in this discipline, and step back from this ill-thought-through decision.

If you need resources to add mitigation to the climate portfolio, either redistribute from other money-making areas in CSIRO (your KPI for entrepreneurship we are all suspecting is driving your role – http://www.brw.com.au/p/tech-gadgets/csiro_venture_partners_marshall_d0FTIiadQE6MbvRMveE2dL ), or other less vital areas within the agency, or approach your boss PM and fight for additional funds.

At a minimum, don’t throw out the underpinnings or downsize to insignificance, what has been built already. That’s no way to run a Research Organisation.

Regards,
Jan Whitaker
Berwick, Victoria

cc: Christopher Pyne, Karen Andrews, Wyatt Roy

Two Months On – What has changed?

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Two months ago almost to the day (tomorrow), Australia received a new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. I say received because we the people don’t elect them. We elect local representatives from parties who then in majority (usually) form the government of the day. In reality, the leader of the country isn’t directly elected, although some in the public think otherwise and talk as if they are. So, there was a ‘spill’ (love that term), the noxious Tony Abbott was voted out by his Liberal Party ‘mates’ (sic) and Malcolm Turnbull was installed in the chair.

What has changed?

Pretty much nothing but style – the policies have remained:

  • children and their families are still in concentration camps on Nauru and Manus Island, PNG;
  • climate action is laughably bad paying polluters from tax coffers not to pollute instead of charging them when they do;
  • marriage equality is a long way off, if ever
  • all of our communications “metadata” (yeah right) is being collected for 2 years and law enforcement in some cases can access without judicial oversight
  • the financial situation is still a mess, switching from a “budget emergency” to “go out and borrow on that credit card” to who knows what, the Treasurer (oh, yeah, we got a new one of those, too – prior Immigration — NOT Minister, Social Services — NOT Minister, Scott Morrison) doesn’t know if it’s a revenue problem or a spending problem (Hint: it’s a population change demand situation, not a problem at all)
  • the health minister is still going to get her mitts on ALL of OUR HEALTH DATA through a goal-post shifting Health Record that will now become Opt-Out
  • health funding is still cut (on future growth) by $80Billion
  • education funding is still cut
  • and the National Broadband Network redesign to cripple it, brought about by Malcolm himself, is still costing more and doing less than the original NBN we were promised by Labor.

What has changed is there is now a dapper dressing millionaire PM who can inflect his speech well when reading from a prepared speech, doesn’t embarrass us quite so much when we let him go out of the country, and has soothed/smoothed the worst of the worst aspects of Abbott’s reign. He did change a few of the Ministers, for good or bad, but he left in some really bad ones:

  • Dutton as Immigration Minister — NOT, an ex Queensland drug squad cop who knows zilch about Immigration other than ‘lock them up’ in camps
  • Morrison as Treasurer — NOT, a Hill$$$ong evangelical Christian who was an Liberal party apparatchik who is totally out of his depth
  • Brandis as Attorney General (took away his Arts portfolio, though), a dilettante with $15,000 bookcases he keeps rebuilding in each office for same amount (maybe it was a cost saving measure to keep him in place) — Mr. Metadata extraordinaire who supports bigotry
  • Christopher “Poodle” Pyne as Minister for ‘Malcolm’s favourite word of the moment’ Innovation — has Chris ever created anything? Anything???? Name just 2 things, please
  • and a cast of more.

Did I say the policies stayed? Yeppers. It’s still the Libs. Doing deals with their under-buddies, the Nats and their business mates (cough)Rupert(cough). It’s still regressive tax proposals, anti-citizen, anti-civil rights, more for the 1% Neo-Liberalism/Neo-Conservative claptrap.

But at least Mal doesn’t embarrass us overseas. (Yet)

Heartland Institute Board

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An organisation that is often presented as being on top of the climate change debate, on the denier side, is the Heartland Institute.

I wondered who these people are. I spent the time searching out all the names. Guess what – not a single scientist in the bunch. ALL are money people or lobbyists. One is an educational psychologist and how he got involved in this topic is beyond me.

Here is the list of board members and their affiliations.

HeartlandBoard

All information was collected from company websites, Linked-in pages for the individual, or research done by others equally wondering who these people are.