Letter to The Australian, 30 May 2008
"Advice is poisoned by fear"
I hear on the scientific grapevine that CSIRO's biggest problem
when providing formal advice to the federal Government on the
matter of climate change is to say nothing that can be interpreted
as giving aid and comfort to the army of irresponsible sceptics
out there who are doubtful about the dreadful consequences of
One can only feel sorry for the Government. Where can it go these
days to get unbiased advice on the issue of global warming? Its
official sources are poisoned by the fear among many scientists
that they may be labelled by their colleagues and by their institutions
as climate-change sceptics.
Basically, the problem is that the research community has gone
so far along the path of frightening the life out of the man
in the street that to recant publicly even part of the story
would massively damage the reputation and political clout of
science in general. And so, like corpuscles in the blood, researchers
all over the world now rush in overwhelming numbers to repel
infection by any idea that threatens the carefully cultivated
belief in climatic disaster.
Garth Paltridge is Emeritus Professor and Honorary
Research Fellow, Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies,
University of Tasmania
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