Sunday, January 24, 2010

Science or Politics: CSIRO compromised

There are two types of soil scientist: those who can grasp the urgent necessity of deploying soil carbon-increasing strategies and those who do not. Among the latter, I an told, there are climate change denialists and haters of market mechanisms.
It is easy to spot an anti-soil C trading scientist. They harp on about complexity, find lots of it, and make no attempt to simplify. They are so transparently fixed. Even their language in scientific papers is political. Here is an extreme example from a 2009 CSIRO paper:

“The existence of the above and other real-life complexities will render market-based C-trading schemes involving pastures, exposed to the risks of complicated, ill-conceived, ill-understood, poorly regulated financial instruments and arrangements that are replete with opportunity for fraudulent scams and inappropriate diversion of community wealth to the personal fortunes of scheme managers and traders, while not delivering the scheme objectives, reminiscent of those involved in the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2009.”

As someone dedicated to seeing the market open as soon as possible, I find this language objectionable and wholly inappropriate coming from an institution that parades its “brand” as being based on the highest standards of science. Individually, its scientists might be denialists or paranoid about trade or afraid of losing control of farmers. But science is science, or it used to be. Has the scientific community got an opinion on this type of derogatory, defamatory language in scientific reports?

1 comment:

John said...

As a farmer who has spent considerable time with Landcare and various field days on better farming methods and employed routinely qualified agronomists, as do most if not all farmers of today, talk of deniers ans sceptics not paying attention to carbon in the soil is utter hof wash. I am also a trained physicist with a PhD in the science which relates to the greenhouse effect, a complex process completely misunderstood by computer modellers and classic climatologists alike. Most of the outspoken sceptics who are serious abpout ridding the world of the stifling fear of unproven global warming, are also highly skilled scientists with years of experience in the matters which could effect Global Warming, even though they would be too modest to call themselves "climatologists". Please, if you are going to comment on matters to do with carbon sequestration, make some positive and realistic comments which might help farmers do it better, in order that they can produce better crops, not to get into some fairly bebulous trading scheme in which the quantity being traded is almost impossible to quantify on a year by year basis, to an accuracy which would be required. Even the much maligned methane production by ruminants has very recently been shown to be accompanied by a trade off of soil carbon, exceeding the amount expended by the sheep and cattle, which after all, are only consuming previously sequestered carbon, and under the ground the roots of grass and grain crops, retain much more new carbon than the cattle etc eat. Thus it is also useful to know what you are talking about.
John Nicol