Australia’s CSIRO booting hundreds of climate scientists is irresponsible. Irresponsible is the least adjective that can describe the move planned by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency.
As reports of the planned cuts took over headlines, the global scientific community responded with a justified uproar. Climate science is as necessary as any other scientific domain. Research underpins any serious development if climate change is to be understood and tackled accordingly.
However, CSIRO bases its decision on the assumption that climate change has been proven. According to officials, it’s time to move past climate science research. The new direction should follow efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change or adapt to climate change.
To anyone with the least understanding of these processes, the decision of Australia’s national science agency sound an alarm signal. In addition, job cuts are planned for scientists working with the meteorological service.
The international criticism of Australia’s CSIRO raised some valid points. First, firing climate scientists is nothing short of a backward step. Australia, a leading country in climate science would remain isolated in the global context. Over 100 climate scientists from the national science agency Ocean and Atmosphere division would see their jobs vanish. The two key units of this division (Ocean and Climate Dynamic and Earth System Assessment) harbor 151 staffed climate scientists, of which 135 are full-time positions.
On Monday, the chief executive of Australia’s CSIRO, Larry Marshall, declared that only about 65 climate scientists would see their positions cut. Whichever the number, cutting key positions in an understaffed scientific field is working against the logic of progress.
Australia has hosted a vibrant climate science community. Top research programs have come up with answers to the harshest climate-related problems in Australia. Australia’s CSIRO booting hundreds of climate scientists is irresponsible. In addition, it underlines a grave lack of insight and understanding of the significance of Australia’s contribution to worldwide climate research.
Arguing that it is high time to focus on mitigation and adaptation strategies doesn’t exclude the crucial role of climate science. Australia’s capacity to continue assessing climate risks depends on climate scientists. A well-founded research capability is paramount in the fight against climate change, not only at the regional level, but at the global level as well.
The federal government of Australia emphasized the need to expand data science. Australia’s CSIRO wants to boot climate scientists. For big data science to emerge it’s necessary to expand the capability of basic science. Abandoning basic climate science on the verge of informing crucial policy decisions is once more irresponsible. Uncertainty still plagues climate science.
The recent understanding of how climate change affects the global ocean suggests research is needed on how changes to the ocean influence the atmosphere, society and the cryosphere. The cold blob of the North Atlantic remains as elusive as ever. Without climate scientists to dive deep to the center of these issues, there are no answers.
Against this background, Australia’s CSIRO booting hundreds of climate scientists is irresponsible.