The CEO of CSIRO, Dr Larry Marshall, who was appointed in Jan 2015, has set the cat amongst the pigeons, including some international ones, by declaring that the organisation will cease to examine the causes of climate change and concentrate instead on how to mitigate the effects of it (see “CSIRO Head Abandons Research on Climate Change”). The clear implication is that he regards the science as settled. But although a physicist, Marshall appears to have had no experience in analysing climate change. His CV indicates that he is an “innovator” – and an exaggerator who claims (unbelievably) Australia has been responsible for “more than 100 great inventions” (see “Larry Marshall”).
But he has nothing to say in support of the large number of staff ( 350) who have been researching and modelling climate change and who will now stop doing so. A number of sceptics, including Garth Paltridge (who was employed at the CSIRO from 1968-81), the late Bob Carter, Bill Kininmonth, Tom Quirk and myself, have been publicly critical of the analysis on climate change published by CSIRO but with no substantive response. In reality CSIRO has not made much of a contribution to research even in support of the warmist view but it did apparently “censor” an internal sceptic of that view in 2009/10 (the CSIRO Censorship“” indicates that after departing the sceptic had his view published in an academic journal).
I note that Marshall says that there will be no net reduction in total CSIRO staff but does not offer a justification for the staff who will be employed somewhere in replacement of the 350 who are to cease work on climate change research. At a time of need to cut budget spending this surely requires a review by the Treasurer or Finance Minister. There is a case for winding down the involvement of the Australian government in scientific research generally ie not only on climate change which has many thousands researching around the world.
Marshall’s decision has led The Australian to publish several critical letters, including one by myself (see below). Note in particular Bill Kininmonth’s comment that CSIRO has refused to debate climate change: the same can be said about other sections of government. My letter includes a reference to Professor John Christy’s excellent submission to the US House Committee on Science in which he has a graph showing that the average of the models published by various research agencies projected an increase in temperature 2.5 times what actually occurred since 1979 (Christy includes a CSIRO model in his calculation and it appears to have performed worse than the average). Yet these agencies include ones which have provided advice/conclusions that governments have accepted as justifying action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases because the increases in those is allegedly leading to temperatures reaching dangerous levels (as shown in the models which have been way off beam!).
I have already circulated Christy’s submission to considerable numbers but I include it here too, partly because I have now read the Appendix on extreme events in the US. Christy’s conclusion is that “claims about increases in frequency and intensity … are generally not supported by actual observations”.
US climate scientist Judith Curry has welcomed Marshall’s decision, saying that “climate modelling had reached the point of diminishing returns”. However many warmists have criticised it, even expressing “outrage” doubtless for fear that government grants will be reduced. These critics do not use the decision as support for the view that “the science is settled”: rather they seem to say that more work needs to be done.
As reported in the Weekend Australian (see attached “CSIRO on CC – Will Others Follow?”), the news of CSIRO’s decision seems to have quickly spread overseas. One wonders whether our warmist PM was informed in advance by “innovator” Marshall that our major contributor to climate research has stopped it. The decision certainly supports the need for a substantive review of the methodology our Bureau of Meteorology, which I touch on in my letter.
GST and Tax Reform
If Marshall’s decision creates some uncertainty about where Australia stands on climate change, PM Turnbull has also created uncertainty about tax reform and whether that would include an increase in the GST that would contribute to financing much needed cuts in income tax. After allowing for several months a possible GST increase to be “on the table”, Turnbull now seems to have it hanging on the edge of the table (see “No GST Increase”). Backbenchers in marginal seats have realised that such an increase would likely cause a loss of seats as happened when Howard established a GST in place of the then clearly inefficient wholesale sales tax. Now there is a much reduced efficiency result argument from swapping a higher consumption tax for a lower income tax and there is the on-going risk that, as in Europe, politicians would allow the consumption tax to creep up in the future.
The solution? Turnbull has rightly said there will be no overall increase in taxes. But does he have the gumption to finance a reduction in income tax by reducing expenditure, set as a “marker” by Treasury Secretary Fraser? Will previous Treasury Secretary Parkinson, now head of PM&C, set out the possibilities in the Cabinet submission he has been asked to draft?