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September 08th 2011 print

Art Raiche

The fall of CSIRO

We came under increasing pressure at the end of the 1980s and it was pretty terrible. We had to become more businesslike. The doors were opened to management consultants. The effect was similar to wounding a healthy organism and then leaving it open to attack by parasites - and brother did the parasites pour in. 

Dr. Art Raiche worked for CSIRO for 35 years, the last 15 with the rank of Chief Research Scientist. This is a transcript of the speech he gave at the “Convoy of No Confidence” protest in Canberra.

Art Raiche: Thank you. I want to correct something; a misapprehension – I’m not a climate scientist, I’m a scientist who has worked on computer modelling, but I’m probably not the right person to speak because I’m not an economist and not a palaeontologist – and these are the people who seem to know the most about climate.

Audience: (Widespread laughter from the audience). 

Art Raiche: Before I go further, is there anyone here who denies that climate changes? 

Audience: “No !” (shouting in unison)

Art Raiche:  Is there anybody here who thinks the earth is flat? 

Audience: “No !” (shouting in unison)

Art Raiche: I don’t think so. The ABC thinks so. Why don’t you all phone up the ABC and tell them that you believe in climate change.

Okay. “Respect the science”, “Respect the science”, “Respect the science”. That’s the mantra we hear again and again and again from the ABC, from the CSIRO, amongst many of the other Australian global warming cult members.

But what we must demand of them is that they respect the science themselves because they love to use the name of science but they do not respect the methods of science. In real science, belief has got to stem from data, not distorting data to fit beliefs. Ethical scientists do not hide their data in methods from other scientists who might disagree with them, nor do they attempt to cover up the uncertainties in their data.

(Video of Art Raiche at the "Convoy of No Confidence" protest.)

Real scientists will debate in public with other scientists who hold contrary opinions. They do not make hysterical demands to shut down the debate. They do not collaborate to deny media and journalist space to dissenting scientists.

I have to say that the more you study climate science – the more you study it the more complex it becomes. It is really hard. It is really complex. What do you think of scientists who tell you that the science is settled? Are these ethical scientists?

Audience: “No !” (shouting in unison)

Art Raiche: Real scientists do not have to rely on the personal views of people like Bob Carter, Ian Plimer, to keep their jobs. They will debate them in public if they really believed what they’ve said.

Now [unclear] respect the science? What do we ask of the CSIRO? First, we might ask the CSIRO and other scientists who are in on the carbon dioxide joke to condemn the disgraceful practices revealed in the Climategate emails. They don’t.

Why do they persist? And here’s my version of the big lie – why do they persist saying that almost all reputable scientists support catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming – that’s a mouthful isn’t it – when even the most simple web search, as all of you know, will reveal research by many eminent scientists worldwide that cast all a lot of doubt on this.

Let me just for a moment mention just a few names – Professor Freeman Dyson – one of my heroes, possibly one of the most eminent scientists, mathematical physicists of the last half of the 20th century. Dick Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at MIT. Will Happer, Professor of Physics at Princeton University. Professor Roy Spencer from University of Alabama and NASA, and Professor Abdussamatov Head of the Space Research Unit of the Russian Academy of Science.

Are these people fools? Did they get their job because they believed the earth was flat? No! These are senior scientists working at some of the most prestigious laboratories in the world and they do not believe that carbon dioxide influences global temperature very much at all, if at all.

How can the testimony before the US Congress of more than 700 eminent international scientists – by the way some of these were IPCC authors and they were reviewers and they have gone before the US Congress saying they do not believe that carbon dioxide has much of an effect on the global climate.

Ah, but now CSIRO. We can understand them very easily you see, because their climate researchers live in a state of altered reality; the second life; the state of computer models. In this world it doesn’t seem to matter when measured data contradicts their model results.

Now most of you know about Phil Watson. He’s from the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change. He’s shown that the rate of sea level change in the second half of the 20th century has begun slowing down.

He has shown this is contrary to the computer models. The CSIRO – does this bother them? No, they’re terrific. They live in “Model World”. They defend their projections because these are based on computer models of the earth’s system, not on an extrapolation of observed regional trends. 

In other words, Mr Watson’s findings about sea levels around Australia and New Zealand are irrelevant. They have no bearing on global trends, because somehow, Australia is different [unclear].

You know, our sea level rise, the fact that it’s not rising here doesn’t mean it won’t rise everywhere else.

Well, I have to admire Tim Flannery, because in spite of all of his projections about the terrible things that are going to happen, he just bought a house on the Hawkesbury River.

Audience: (Loud prolonged laughter)

Art Raiche: One of the things that really disturbs me is that over, and over, and over, and over again, I hear that the people who come to these meetings don’t know anything about the science that all the scientists agree.

Let me quote my hero – Professor Freeman Dyson, the brilliant Professor of Physics at the Institute of Advance Study at Princeton. For those of you who don’t know that’s where Albert Einstein spent his last days – and you have to be very good to get there.

Professor Freeman says: Climate models do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry, the biology in the fields, the farms, the forests, they do not begin to describe the real world in which we live – one that is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand.

He goes on to say – it’s much easier for scientists to sit in an air conditioned building and run computer models than to put on winter clothes and actually measure what’s going on outside in the swamps and clouds – and that is why the computer model experts wind up believing their own models. It’s too hard to get out.

But if CSIRO really believed in their climate projections, why do all the reports contain legal disclaimers protecting them from all responsibility should anyone dare to act on what they said was going to happen.

Perhaps CSIRO should follow the advice of our beloved Prime Minister – “Don’t write crap – it can’t be that hard”.

Audience: (Prolonged applause)

Art Raiche: I have to tell you, from a personal standpoint, it really pains me to come to Canberra here and think about how the CSIRO has deteriorated so badly.

The organisation employed me for 35 years -the last 15 of which I had the rank of Chief Research Scientist – I worked on computer modelling by the way – the CSIRO that I joined in 1971 was a very lean, world class organisation and it was run by scientists for the benefit of Australia.

As such I can tell you that it attracted many brilliant scientists. Some of them I have to tell you were a bit weird, but they certainly did great things for Australian agriculture and industry, as well as for Blue Sky Science.

Here’s an important thing – CSIRO was called a QANGO – that’s a bureaucratic term meaning Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation – financed by government but set to act independently of government. That meant that my day, our research and publications were judged on the quality of their science and how useful it was, and not whether or not it agreed with government policy.

Audience: (Cheers and applause)

Art Raiche: But, we came under increasing pressure at the end of the 1980s and it was pretty terrible. We had to become more businesslike. The doors were opened to management consultants. 

Audience: (Widespread laughter and jeers)

Art Raiche: The effect was similar to wounding a healthy organism and then leaving it open to attack by parasites – and brother did the parasites pour in.

Over the next 10 years layer upon layer of management was created, some intersecting others. You think your tax dollar is meant to fund research. Well guess what, a lot of it was diverted to [indecipherable] and paying their management gains.

The money that used to be used to send CSIRO scientists to go and study their science elsewhere is now spent on sending these people to fancy business schools in the United States and Europe.

They did learn one thing. They did learn how to bring even the most talented senior scientist under their control. Independent science by the way was still okay, it was okay to think independently, that is as long as what you thought agreed with what the management thought.

We scientists were given very strict guidelines – and I have to tell you this – very strict – we got lots of memos on not publishing any public discussion, not publishing anything or public discussion of any research that could be seen as critical of government policy. Those who did not do it could be subject to dismissal.

The days of CSIRO as a QANGO were over. We had now become a government enterprise. That’s kind of an oxymoron actually.

Here is the thing that really struck a blow at the heart of a lot of the scientists of my generation – we were told by the chairperson that we scientists no longer worked for Australia, we had to learn that we worked for CSIRO.

[Inaudible] – management control structures meant that research decisions were no longer left to we scientists who knew our sectors. No. It was left to a central bureaucratic authority who could liaise with the government more easily.

In the old CSIRO we were free to collaborate with scientists across the whole of CSIRO. Now, we can only collaborate as long it fits the business model.

In this brave new world…

Unidentified: Where was the media? (Repeated calls from the audience)

Art Raiche: The media? Cooperating with the government.

Audience: (Prolonged jeers and boos)

Art Raiche: In this brave new world it is not surprising that we lost of a lot of talented scientists, because a lot of them could no longer stomach what CSIRO had become, and a lot who wanted to stay were retrenched because they were a bit silly to think they could still do what they wanted to.

Clearly independent thinking could not be tolerated. The people who needed to survive because they had to support their families quickly learned that supporting management schemes was far more important than performing brilliant science, especially when science could endanger CSIRO’s ability to attract funds from government.

Now a lot of people here who are critical of this meeting will say that I’m exaggerating. So let’s talk about 2009 – Clive Spash, an economist, was employed by CSIRO. He published a peer-reviewed paper that was critical of an Emissions Trading Scheme. CSIRO and the government were not amused by this. Clive Spash was sacked and even the ABC covered that one.

He is now a Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Unidentified: Where was the media during all this? (Call from the audience)

Art Raiche: Yeah, you tell me.

In choosing who to believe, our beloved Prime Minister says, on the one hand there is Alan Jones. On the other hand there’s CSIRO. On one hand there is Alan Jones and on the other hand there is CSIRO.

Well Prime Minister, I’ll tell you one thing, at least Alan Jones interviews scientists whose career doesn’t depend on kowtowing to government policy.

Audience: (Loud cheers of affirmation)

Art Raiche: So, I ask you – I put a question to you – who should you believe? Who should you believe?

Audience: Alan Jones ! (In unison)

Art Raiche: When you hear scientists tell you about the terrors of global warming from carbon dioxide, you ask them one question – who pays your salary? Because he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Audience: (Loud cheers of affirmation)

Art Raiche: I migrated to this country 40 years ago and became an Australian citizen and I was very proud, but one of my proudest moments is seeing all of you here today representing our vibrant democracy.

Thank you.

Source: Thanks to Paul Johnson for providing the transcript.

Other speeches from the “Convoy of No Confidence” protest: 

Bob Carter in Canberra

Jennifer Marohasy in Canberra

Matt Thompson: The bush is bleeding


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