Extract from article by Michael Borgas, written as president of the CSIRO Staff Association, in the last week of the 2010 election campaign:
The best social outcomes from science need an ongoing commitment from politicians for open, transparent and independent advice and not politically or ideologically motivated science.
But issues such as the “climategate” inquiries, threatened prosecutions of climate scientists in the US, and even the indictment of Italian earthquake scientists for manslaughter, show that science advice is under pressure around the world.
And in Australia, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, and many other science agencies covered by the Community and Public Sector Union, carry on the best traditions of science advice to government, but have been attacked and threatened in Senate estimates by politicians and in the right-wing media such as Quadrant and The Australian.
And just this week, on ABC’s Q and A, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, a climate sceptic, said: “If you believe various measuring organisations, hasn’t increased . . . the point is not the science, the point is how should government respond, and we have a credible response.”‘ This disdain for the science is yet another attack on the work done by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. If the point isn’t the science, then what is? And if he doesn’t believe the scientific evidence, why is he talking about action on climate change?
All political parties have been challenged on how to adopt science advice before the upcoming election on August 21. The science policy of the ALP recognises the need for citizens to embrace more from science than its gadgets, but citizens also need to know that science is independent, reliable and trustworthy, for which we need more open and transparent clarity on science advice.
Source: National Times