The country’s climate research arm is losing hundreds of staff after it has been decided that it the basic parts of global warming have been proven.
But scientists worry that the decision will leave Australia unable to respond to the effects of global warming. The country is already among the hardest hit by global warming, being the driest country on Earth and undergoing massive changes in its weather.
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) employs thousands of scientists and has taken the lead in modelling the climate and observing the effects of its changes on the ocean. It said in a statement that it had made a strategic decision to move away from climate science and work instead on how to adapt to the new environment.
But scientists said that basic work is still very much ongoing and that it would damage the state of climate research across the Southern Hemisphere.
“The CSIRO is effectively saying ‘climate science is done and we’re moving on to adaptation and mitigation’,” John Church, a sea-level expert who has been employed by the organisation for 38 years, told Nature News. “My view is that there is inaccurate and misleading science in that statement — climate science is not done.”
Up to 110 out of 140 jobs at its atmosphere and oceans division will be cut, according to reports. A further 120 positions at the land and water program will go, and 350 climate staff will be moved to other roles away from their specialism.
Because the CSIRO is the most advanced institution of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, cuts to its work could affect modelling of the climate of large parts of the world. The organisation creates one of the only high resolution pictures of the Southern Hemisphere’s climate — and the models that data is used in are among the most important for studying how climate change will affect the world.
“Australia is ground zero for climate change,” a CSIRO scientist told Scientific American. “In order to adapt, you need climate models that are going to tell us what you need to adapt to, where you need to adapt, and by when you need to adapt.”
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