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[News] Scientist gagged on emissions trading scheme

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CSIRO scientist to be punished over emissions trading scheme paper


* By Crystal Ja

* From: AAP

* November 26, 2009 10:33PM


CSIRO scientist to be punished over emissions trading scheme paper | Herald Sun



THE CSIRO will punish one of its scientists after he published a paper on climate change that criticised the Government's emissions trading scheme.


It has accused Dr Clive Spash of breaching protocol by releasing the paper before it was vetted by the peak science body.


"These breaches of fundamental CSIRO standards will be dealt with through appropriate line management," CSIRO boss Megan Clark wrote in a letter to Federal Science Minister Kim Carr.


"In a world of rapidly evolving public debate and discourse, a national research agency such as CSIRO should discharge its public role by being readily and rapidly available to provide information on the most up-to-date science and technology and its implications for the nation."


I support and commend this policy position, and believe we can do better.


It is not good enough to allow scientists and other researchers to comment on matters of public interest but then to quarantine them from contentious issues. As is often the case, it is in matters of contention and sharp debate that their knowledge and expertise is most valuable. Their right to speak out and to represent their research or discoveries must be protected.

Liberating the voices of science | The Australian


Listen to MP3 of this story ( minutes)


Alternate WMA version | MP3 download



CLIVE SPASH: I should make clear from the start that I'm an economist and there seems to be some confusion about the terms of the scientist versus social scientist.

My area of work and the area of work I was employed to engage in is public policy on environmental issues.

So if I was employed by the CSIRO to do that job, I have no problem with publishing the type of work I was doing.


MARK COLVIN: So your understanding was that you were not in the position of say a public servant in a minister's department who's really gagged from speaking publicly?


CLIVE SPASH: Oh certainly not. When I was employed I was told that I would have a free remit. I was employed as a science leader to do blue skies thinking.

The whole point of my position was to actually push the boundaries for the CSIRO.


MARK COLVIN: They have a policy on public comment apparently which says: "as representatives of CSIRO staff should avoid making direct comment for or against government or opposition policy". That seems to be in direct contradiction to having you as a blue sky thinker as you call it.


CLIVE SPASH: I think they've certainly got themselves into a total mess both with their public policy statements and also their charter signed with the Minister.

It seems impossible for the CSIRO to conduct research engaging on public policy issues and yet maintain a statement which prevents them from doing that.


MARK COLVIN: So you would see a CSIRO employee in your position as, closer for instance, to an employee of the ABC who's actually employed to talk about public policy?


CLIVE SPASH: Yes, or you could say a university professor. That's what I was before, I was a research professor who has the freedom to speak and engage on any issue and to be judged by their peers on the validity and quality of their work.

PM - Dumped CSIRO professor calls for Senate inquiry 24/02/2010


The worse part of this outrage was the Minister for science (an ex HS science teacher) criticized the man's work and performance as a scientist under the privilege of parliament (Can't therefore be sued for defamation).


This is the paper online

Clive L. Spash - Environmental Values and Economics

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Yes, that's pretty outrageous. The wiki on the old CPRS (now dead) was devastating enough, critiquing the pathetic targets, the costs, and timelines.

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


In other words, there are already many public voices that have responded to this poor effort, such as climate scientist Professor Barry brook who said:

Professor Barry Brook, the Director of the Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability at the University of Adelaide, stated that "the 14% cut in our total emissions by 2020 announced today is such a pitifully inadequate attempt to stop dangerous climate change that we may as well wave the white flag now."[16]


How do we stop all the farting around and get Australia serious about fast deployment of the S-PRISM? If nothing better comes along (and it will) then the Integral Fast Reactor is currently the fastest and cheapest technology to solve peak oil, global warming, and nuclear waste all in one hit! The proverbial silver bullet exists! I just can't communicate this strongly enough to my friends, many of whom still remain sceptical. So I produced this poster.


Download for free here, and put up at your local library or university campus!


(Image below only a low resolution preview image, download the poster at the link above).


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This may have to do with the bigger picture, versus the smaller picture. The government has to balance science, economics and other factors. It is not there to only optimize science. The scientist in question's job was to blue sky his piece of the big tamale. He began to think this was the entire tamale.


The world's economies are not in the best shape at this time. The weak world economy not only impacts science, but many other things. Those who lead the world economies, may not benefit by the additional costs, at this time. You don't throw a heavy anchor to someone who is threading water. You send floatation. The heavy anchor may appease a questionable fear of the good ship earth sinking, but it might also create real fears if the world goes into depression. It might be smarter to think about adding all these extra anchor costs, after the world is up to steam again; from surplus. I assume that is the government position.

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The world's economies are not in the best shape at this time. The weak world economy not only impacts science, but many other things. Those who lead the world economies, may not benefit by the additional costs, at this time. You don't throw a heavy anchor to someone who is threading water. You send floatation.


Ummm, well, if the population actually understood the science about nuclear energy now coming in smaller modular packages that can be mass-produced on the production line, then they might also understand that the clean energy of nuclear power might just be the cheapest energy we've ever seen. What better way is there to lift Africa out of poverty, burn all our nuclear waste, deal with climate change and solve peak oil all in one hit?


questionable fear of the good ship earth sinking

Pffft, strawman. No one talks about the 'earth sinking', and even James Hansen acknowledges his Venus scenarios might be on the extreme edge of possibility. It's about the ECONOMIC impacts of climate change being far, far worse than the cure. Prevention is better than the cure! (The climate science and economic modelling for various scenarios shows us that, and I'm not getting into a Denialist debate here.)


If laws against breeder reactors were lifted, nuclear power could be deployed at such a cheap rate they might be cheaper than coal! Government ideology against breeder reactors is already hurting the marketplace. The energy market already has an anchor strapped to their chest! It's time to repeal outdated and inaccurate notions that breeders make bombs. They don't. The plutonium is too mixed up with other crap.

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