CSIRO boss Larry Marshall is not backing down from his decision to scale back the organisation’s climate division despite a widespread backlash.
Dr Marshall told the ABC on Thursday he feels like an “early climate scientist in the `70s fighting against the oil lobby” in trying to explain the restructure.
“For [a reversal of the changes] to happen, someone’s going to have to convince me that measuring and modelling is far more important than mitigation — and at this point you know, none of my leadership believe that,” he said.
Dr Marshall said there was so much emotion in the climate debate that it sounded “more like religion than science”.
“I’ve been told by some extreme elements that they’ve put me at the top of the climate deniers list and what perplexes me is how saying that we’re going to shift more resources to mitigation — i.e. doing something to address climate change versus just measuring and modelling it — I don’t see how that makes me a climate denier.”
The planned changes have drawn the ire of thousands of international climate scientists who have signed an open letter urging the CSIRO to reconsider them. The head of the World Meteorological Organisation’s Climate Research Program has also taken aim at the CSIRO’s changes.
“Normally as a UN agency we would never intervene or interfere like this, but this is just so startling and so devastating that we have to take this stand,” director Dr Dave Carlson said.
It follows a veiled swipe from Australia’s new chief scientist Alan Finkel, who told a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday the country needed a “continuous and highly effective commitment to climate science” to meet both national and international commitments.
Dr Marshall will front a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Thursday to further explain the restructure.