Australia cannot afford to silence the voice of science – Editorial – Opinion

“Good science and a healthy society depend on dissenting opinion – an independent CSIRO is a crucial part of that.

There is a serious problem trying to balance scientific goals with those of the marketplace, let alone political and religious ideology. In Australia the brand we have learned to trust with the mission of interpreting our world has come with the initials CSIRO. The success of its Total Wellbeing Diet book is testament to the value of the organisation’s reputation. In the 20 or more years since evidence began to emerge that human activity might be causing climate change, Australian scientists doing world-class research on the topic worked under the CSIRO flag. Unfortunately, the implication of their message was not necessarily what business and government leaders wanted to hear, especially when it challenged the belief in the right to conduct business as usual. It was a case of not liking the news carried by the messenger. In time-honored tradition, as revealed in The Age, the messenger was, if not shot, at least silenced.

The former head of the CSIRO’s Division of Atmospheric Research, Dr Graeme Pearman, was one such messenger, who committed the sin of straying into making warnings that business as usual would lead Australia and the rest of the planet into potentially catastrophic climate change. Ironically, it seems even the sceptics in government have now accepted the truth of these warnings. However, the question at issue seems to be the right of a government-paid scientist to make them. There is a fear that Australia might be going down the same path as the US, which has provided several examples of scientific opinion being silenced when it causes political embarrassment.”






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