'This Is Deeply Disturbing News' Top Scientists Condemn CSIRO Job Cuts

The CSIRO today announced it will cut at least 300 jobs — mostly in the area of climate science, will will effectively cease to operate. — scientists have spoken out against the cuts, outlining what this will mean to the future of climate research in Australia.

Professor Penny Sackett is an Adjunct Professor at the Climate Change Institute, Australian National University and a former Australian Chief Scientist

"I am stunned by reports that CSIRO management no longer thinks measuring and understanding climate change is important, innovative or impactful. Paris did not determine whether or not climate change is happening, scientists who generate and study big data did. The big question now, which underlies all climate adaptation work, is 'How is the climate changing?'"

"That answer will once again be determined by those scientists who gather climate data and model it. How can it be that our largest national research organisation chooses not to engage, indeed not to lead, the effort in finding the answer to that question?”

Associate Professor Todd Lane is President of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS)

"This is terrible news for climate science in Australia and threatens our ability to predict future climate and the inherent risks. Research at CSIRO is at the core of our climate modelling and monitoring efforts, and is essential for better future climate projections."

"Climate science is not solved — out to the year 2030 most of the uncertainty in climate projections is due to uncertainty about the ways to represent some physical processes in climate models. We know that the risks associated with extreme weather and climate events increases disproportionately as the globe warms. Cutting funding in this area now doesn’t make any sense."

Professor Will Steffen is an Emeritus Professor at ANU and a Climate Councillor at the Climate Council of Australia. Will was previously the executive director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP)

"This is deeply disturbing news. The impacts of climate change are already being felt around Australia at an increasing rate, and there is more to come. We absolutely need to know more about the basic operation of the climate system — how it is changing and how best can we respond to the climate change challenge."

"The health, environmental and economic risks of climate change are just too large to sweep them under the carpet. CSIRO is Australia's premier research organisation in terms of fundamental climate science, and has built a well-deserved international reputation for world-class science that has contributed much to global understanding of climate change. It takes decades of hard work by dedicated scientists to build up such a reputation. It can be destroyed overnight by senseless actions by those in power."

"Very regrettably, this seems to be happening."

Professor Steven Sherwood is co-Director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales

"Larry Marshall surely has a point about rejuvenating organisations and solving new challenges, but I worry about his statement that there is no further need post-COP21 to understand climate change since we now know it is real."

"Effective action requires detailed understanding. For example, Marshall speaks of contributing to the proposed agricultural development of the Northern Territory, but we don’t know for how much longer this region will still support agriculture or even human habitation as the Earth keeps warming, nor how much drying (if any) Australia's existing agricultural regions will experience. The groups that would help provide answers are the ones he says we don’t need any more."

Dr Paul Durack is a Research Scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US and is a former Visiting Scientist at CSIRO

"I worked at the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric laboratories both in Melbourne (Aspendale) and Hobart during the period 2003-2011. I'm now based in the US as opportunities to undertake world leading research at CSIRO have dwindled over the last decade."

"This new round of proposed cuts makes a bad situation so much worse, and from the information currently being reported may lead to a key and proud Australian research capacity at CSIRO leaving Australian shores for good."

Associate Professor Kevin Walsh is an Associate Professor and Reader in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne

"It is with dismay that I read the reports that climate research in the Ocean and Atmosphere section of CSIRO is effectively to cease, due to staff cuts."

"It is incorrect to say, as CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall has stated, that the climate change science problem is solved, and now all we need to do is figure out what to do about it. No working climate scientist believes that. Also, it is very hard to believe that good decisions will be made on what to do about climate change if CSIRO has little remaining expertise in climate science."

Dr Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick is a DECRA Research Fellow at the Climate Change Research Centre at The University of New South Wales

"The latest round of job cuts from CSIRO is nothing short of appalling. The climate research work conducted by CSIRO has been pioneering and of global standard. While we know that the climate is changing because of human activity, we have not simply 'answered' that question after the Paris agreement — many more questions remain."

"Like other scientific fields — such as biology, chemistry and medicine — continual research is required to continually improve our methods, understanding and knowledge. Research in any field does not, and cannot stop after an apparent question has been answered."

"In terms of climate science, much more research needs to be done on furthering our understanding of these changes, monitoring the climate as it does change, and making our climate and weather models more efficient and improving their capabilities. Much of this work was undertaken by CSIRO, and so now a big hole will be left. If we want to properly safeguard our country from climate change, we require ongoing fundamental climate research - we cannot create innovative and effective solutions towards climate change without it."

Professor Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University and President of the Australian Conservation Foundation

"It is always disappointing when science is cut back, especially when we need to be more innovative to overcome the economic problem of falling commodity prices. It is particularly bad when the cuts are in such areas as Oceans & Atmosphere, Land & Water and Manufacturing, as these are critical to our chances of a sustainable future."

"More worrying than the cuts is the language used by the new CEO. There won’t be scientists sacked, there will be 'reductions in headcount'! And these aren’t research areas, they are 'business units', headed not by top scientists but “business leaders”. The cuts are 'something that we must do to renew our business', according to the CEO. The language reveals that the government is trying to sabotage our public science body and turn it into a consulting business."

Professor Clive Hamilton is Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University

“CSIRO climate scientists are world class and are researching the most decisive factor that will influence the future of the world. To slash their numbers at a time when the urgency of understanding and responding to climate change has never been greater suggests that the Government does not want to hear the facts."

"At least Mr Abbott was upfront about his denial of climate science. This new phase is more insidious.”

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    Since the federal budget was last balanced spending has gone up an average of 9% PA, but revenue has only give up 6.5% PA. Something has to give.

    The university types of course do not live in economic reality. They think evening should just be funded because.... Trust them it should.

    The CSIRO also seems to be totally mismanaged. Their government funding was cut by just 2%, yet they are talking about sacking upto 20% of staff!! So most of these layoffs have nothing to do with the very small decrease in federal funds.

      Spending hasn't gone up by 9%pa. What kind of dummy libertarian fantasy world do you inhabit? As a percentage of GDP, it's been dead flat for 15 years. Real growth in expenses was less than 0.9% last year. You are orders of magnitude off.

      Here, have some pictures since numbers are clearly a bit challenging.

      'University types' who studied economics would probably point out that your 'zomg budget emergency' argument is complete bullshit. The CSIROs budget makes up 0.18% of annual expenses. As opposed to something like social security (36%) where Governments on both sides refuse to make reforms for fear of losing boomer and battler votes. And, on the flip side, refuse to reform the entire revenue side of the equation.

      But hey, cutting a absolutely miniscule portion of expenses (ie, 0.18%) for ideological reasons which serve an important national function will definitely sort out your imaginary problem. SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE.

      'University types' who studied accounting would probably go on to point out that they are talking about losing 7% of staff (not 20%, because math) and that staff expenses only make up half of their annual expenses to begin with, so your attempt to draw inferences between 2% and 20% and imply there is no relationship and 'mismanagement' is retarded.

      Last edited 04/02/16 2:21 pm

        Firstly they cut csiro budget by $27m this year, of $1,160million. Not even 3%. This round of lay offs is 7% of staff but they have said all up it will end up 20% over the next year or so. Csiro are also hiring in mass, especially $67m for new jobs at Antarctic research. So most of these job cuts have nothing to do with federal budget and everything to do with csiro willingly shifting their own work force to more field scientists and less desk scientists.

        Also i want saying spending was to high, i was saying sending and revenue have deviated, so either tax goes up or some spending is cut, or both.

      So much for the new focus on innovation.
      The Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda will help to create a modern, dynamic, 21st century economy for Australia.
      The opportunities for Australia have never been greater.
      Australian businesses have unprecedented access to the global economy through our new trade agreements with China, Japan and Korea. More than half the world’s middle class already live in our region.
      Our businesses, universities and research organisations like the CSIRO are also among the best in the world.

      But you know, let's cut their budgets and lay of 350 staff so that they don't have to stay that way.


      Last edited 04/02/16 2:51 pm

      That's right, WTF! would we need 300 people on probably over $100,000k each paid for by our taxes to study climate change. We know it's happening, we know how to slow it down and there is plenty of world wide scientists already researching it. Let's have these high IQ people not bludging off the taxpayers and actually working in private enterprise firms that make stuff, contribute to the economy and pay tax. A lot of these scientists have left taxpayer subsidised university and gone directly into taxpayer funded government jobs. I've a lot of respect for science and scientists, however they need to justify their existence just like everyonelse. The best way to do that is to earn money with inventions such as WiFi, etc.

    Australia employees, a large fraction of, 300 climate scientists?
    Wow, mind blown.
    What are all of these people doing?

      Studying the climate, I'd wager.

      Knowing some of them I could probably go into more detail, but based on your original comment it'd probably go over your head anyway.

    I was under the impression that the CSIRO are actually making money from their innovations and inventions. What the hell happened to the idea that you have to invest in tech, creativity and bit of risk to make money?

      You don't make money from climate change research.... You do save money from climate change research, but sadly you don't save it anywhere near quickly enough for anyone in a political career to give a damn :(

    Maybe this is all just a not-so-subtle attempt to force a brain drain to the US!

    This week it was announced a CSIRO was partners in a joint venture biomedical CRC project that just got a 730 million dollar windfall. three cheers Congratulations... Job cuts for everyone. Same thing happened with the WiFi patent... mass job cuts. Way to reward and promote innovation.

    Of course they cut money to Climate science. LNP does not want Climate change investigated. Thats what their big business backers tell them to do.

    There are certain types of people, sadly an increasing number, who fail to value anything that does not have a dollar valuation. Listen to the news and hear how almost everything has to be related to its monetary appraisal. Perhaps CSIRO scientists need to attach an addendum to all research papers that estimates the cost of doing or not doing something re climate change. That may help the economic simpletons.

      Our country as always that way though. Even back in the 1800s: There's a myth that Australia was founded by convicts, but the truth is the majority of the population were always free settlers (as logically they'd HAVE to be or the convicts would've taken over), and most of those people came over for purely commercial reasons. This country has always been about making a quick buck and exploitation no matter the cost to anything non-monetary.

    should change it's name to something that gets changed every election to represent the reality and then cut some more as this country is only interesed in sport and giving innovation away to overseas interests and short term ideology.

    If 97% of scientists believe the science is settled then keep the other 3% for research.

    It is incorrect to say, as CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall has stated, that the climate change science problem is solved, and now all we need to do is figure out what to do about it. No working climate scientist believes that. - Kevin Walsh

    Er... you didn't say that when people were questioning the data that you used to promote this scare. You said that the science was settled, we knew exactly what was going on, and that it was now time for action.

    Well, the action has been taken. Could it be that you were not telling the truth when you said that the science was in? Or is it that you are not telling the truth now...?

    Turnbul hasn't been as hugely internationally humiliating and degrading for this country as Abbott was, as well as a bit better of a human being, but his government is still on the exact same Luddite, ultra conservative path as before.

    The Turnbull Tories have made global warming go away. Get rid of the scientists, close the department studying it and it magically disappears......


    Any manager who does not carry out duties set down by his superiors is not worthy of his/her salary and (with the exception of a few government departments) given notice. The current CSIRO management have been tasked to work to budget and clean out the stables as they go. What is the problem?

    CSIRO have a proven track record. Together with the BoM, the other member of John Howard’s rush of brains to the head the flagship office on climate change, modelling shortfalls have been overcome and the science part is settled. When the TV weathermen read the weather we have 30% chance of rain, possible thunderstorms and miscellaneous conditional weather events. Couldn’t get better accuracy and value for the taxpayer’s $$ there.

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