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How Long Before AGW is recognised as a Spectacularly Wrong Scientific Theories by the Academies?

“ONE of the best things about science is that the discipline is self-correcting.” So wrote Eric Berger in a blog post in which he lists, what he considers, the top 10 most spectacularly wrong once widely held scientific theories.clouds

His list included:
The stress theory of ulcers;
Immovable continents;
Phlogiston; and
Miasmatic theory of disease.

I’m wondering how long on average these theories existed before they were falsified and how many sceptical scientists were censured before their eventual overthrow?

Which brings me to the subject of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). While I’m convinced that one day it will be recognised as spectacularly wrong, at this point in history, each year its grip on popular opinion and on the scientific community seems to only strengthen.

I was disappointed to recently reread an article written in 2011 about the Murray River entitled ‘Water under the Bridge’. While its author, Kate Jennings, was sympathetic to my work, until I reread the piece I had forgotten her disparaging comments about my AGW scepticism. She wrote: “Jennifer Marohasy is a prominent climate-change sceptic, so her work on the barrages is dismissed out of hand.”

****
Update 31st December 2013. Comment from David Boyd.

Hi Jen,

I was disappointed in your interpretation of Kate’s references to you in her 2011 article as “disparaging”. I don’t think they were. She was stating a problem which we “enlightened sceptics” suffered from with our then minority position on the climate change nonsense.

Remember the full quote was-
“Jennifer Marohasy is a prominent climate-change sceptic, so her work on the barrages is dismissed out of hand. (We could also dismiss anything from the Wentworth Group because it is funded by the World Wildlife Fund, which could bias findings.)”

I think Kate’s comment was “disparaging” of the “commentariat”. How absurd to attempt to undermine somebodies views on one issue, because you disagree with their views on another.

David Boyd

****

Thanks David. Words, and how they are interpreted and how for the one person that interpretation can change.

For those who wish to form their own opinion, Kate’s essay can be read here… http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2011/october/1317956752/kate-jennings/water-under-bridge. It is also interesting to ponder the second paragraph…

“I insulted the Greens on purpose to get your attention. Green-ish myself. Climate change? Happening. Melting poles, warming oceans. People, do something! But if I’d started by discussing tillage fractures or SER statistics, you would’ve drifted, flipped the page. I also wanted to make a point about insults. If you begin an op-ed piece, as Tim Flannery did in the Age, with “… white Australia’s relationship with the bush has been a kind of rape and pillage”, your subsequent points about biochar as a source of energy or innovations in farming are completely lost on the audience you most want to reach…” The paragraph ends with reference to metaphors having consequences.

Kate is clear that she does believe in climate change including melting poles and warming oceans. Of course.

If an author needs to begin a piece in The Monthly on the Murray River with reference to climate change and explicitly state that she believes in it, what does this tell us about herself and/or her audience? My recent reference to Carl Jung’s writings are perhaps relevant here http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/11/against-collective-integration-carl-jung/ .

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189 Responses to “How Long Before AGW is recognised as a Spectacularly Wrong Scientific Theories by the Academies?”

Pages: « 1 2 3 [4] Show All

  1. Comment from: Debbie


    Luke,
    I am so NOT(!) critical of BoM & CSIRO in terms of what they have contributed and are capable of contributing!
    I have the pleasure of working with some of them in my business and also in other roles.
    May I suggest you reread my comments?

    Are you claiming that the system and focus of these institutions is perfect and above criticism altogether??????

    But I am highly fascinated with this comment:

    “Incidentally most producers I talk to could list about 10 specific issues without drawing breath !”

    Please do list up those 10 specific issues that those ‘most producers you talk to’ can deliver without drawing breath and I’ll let you know if it is a similar list to ‘most producers’ in my area.

    BTW you can conclude whatever you like about me. . .it is entirely irrelevant. . .If you are truly interested in talking to me I am not that difficult to find. .. you could ask Jen. . .or simply look me up.

    However. . .I would always stand up for your right to maintain your anonymity and to draw your own conclusions at a blog. . .but when you draw totally unsubstantiated personal conclusions. . .it doesn’t mean anything. . .and doesn’t prove anything…and to me. . .it actually reveals more about you than anything else.

  2. Comment from: Luke


    So you don’t have anything then Debs.

  3. Comment from: Debbie


    Don’t have anything about what Luke?
    Maybe you need to learn to ask better questions?
    If you think you know what the top 10 would be from ‘most producers’ that you talk to. . . then please do elaborate.
    It was you Luke who claimed that you talk to producers and they have SPECIFICALLY answered ‘without drawing breath’ a list of 10. . . which then led you to make a totally irrelevant and unsubstantiated comment about me.
    So let’s hear them Luke. . .what’s on that top 10 list from those ‘most producers’?
    Do you think it’s a good list?
    What type of producers are they?
    If you genuinely want to discuss this . . .I actually am fine with your anonymity stance. . .but you need to provide some EVIDENCE for your claim about ‘most producers’. . .what are those top 10 SPECIFIC things they have listed ‘without drawing breath’?

  4. Comment from: Luke


    Have to admit Debs you’d do well in a Premiers Dept – unable to give a straight answer to anything – duck and weave – try and invert the question. So I take it Debs that you do have a single specific question for our seasonal forecasters (probably except make it perfect). Whatever “it” is.

    I did find a video of you though – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDjCqjzbvJY

  5. Comment from: Debbie


    I Love Monty Python!
    That one’s a ripper.
    But seriously Luke. . .I am really interested in that list of 10 that you have from those ‘most producers’
    Who is ducking and weaving BTW?
    I’m not all that interesting in ARGUING with you for any price or time slot. . .I suggest you might need to look at those other 3 fingers of yours when you point your finger at me.
    I am fascinated by that list of 10 Luke. . .you claim to know what ‘most producers’ want because those most producers that you talk to can tell you 10 things without drawing breath.
    Don’t tell me I might have to conclude you have nothing or you’re simply just whinging or hand waving?
    SURELY NOT?
    And BTW. . .I have to repeat this . . .I am so NOT(!) critical of BoM and CSIRO in terms of what they have contributed and are capable of contributing!
    My issue is where their focus has been directed and how the system has been radically centralised.
    The CSIRO office in my area is nearly empty. . .it used to be full of really great people who knew how to work with the public they were servicing. . .most of them are now working OS or a few have been moved to places like Sydney or Canberra.
    Perhaps when you cease making such outrageous claims about what I am or I am not or what I do or I don’t do or what I do or don’t care about. . . based on zippo evidence. . .I might be a little more inclined to answer some of your questions if I thought they were actually genuine and you were actually genuinely interested in the answers.
    And from your latest comment:
    Who on earth said that they expect that seasonal forecasting should be perfect?
    That person needs help . . .it is far from perfect!

  6. Comment from: Luke


    Debbie – I did not the say “the” list of 10 – I said a list of 10 for them personally.

    So if you are serious (and you’re not) you’d be able to say here’s a few areas where I’m interested in seeing improvement in seasonal forecasting ability, technology, application, type, style, presentation or ANYTHING including the font type !

    You cannot come up with a SINGLE ONE EVER ! It’s not a trick or haha gotcha. It’s simply a test of any interest.

    Now given you’re critical of the research effort – I can only conclude you have no interest really or you’d be able to rattle a few personal wish lists or peeves off.

  7. Comment from: Debbie


    BS Luke!
    Total BS!
    I am so NOT(!) critical of research effort!
    What’s gone wrong with your comprehension skills?
    I have quite clearly stated where my criticism lies and have repeatedly said that it is not the actual researchers/scientists who are the problem. Neither is it anything to do with a lack of data.
    You just don’t like to hear it and therefore resort to pretending to be selectively deaf/dense . . .with your unsubstantiated “I can only conclude” rubbish.
    It’s not a good look BTW.
    You did indeed state that ‘most producers’ that you talk to can easily reel of a list of 10 without drawing breath. . .so let’s assume you may have been a little too passionate when you wrote that and consequently may have exaggerated a little.
    How about halving that number and going for 5?
    You can even start with 1 if you like.
    But OK. . .let me be the one to restart the conversation.
    May I suggest you could try the same type of sub headings that BoM used at the last presentation I attended?
    a) Who would need to use this information?
    b) Why would they need to use it?
    c) How would they like it presented?

    From my perspective. . .as I am an irrigator in the southern MBD. . .and BoM has the responsibility of collecting and providing all the data for the new Federal Water Resource Plans. . . they seem to have somewhat lost their way according to their own sub headings.
    They did not cover those 3 questions/subheadings and either did not like or did not understand any of the suggestions that came from the floor. . .which is very interesting indeed as we were a group of people who a) need to use this information b) Because our personal livelihoods and support communities depend on the sensible management of water resources and c) Need it presented so that we can compare and contrast with our historical records, our future investments and other important aspects such as inflows, dam levels etc..

    of course. . .the inherent problem is more widespread that just water resource management. . . but you did ask to hear from my perspective.

    So would you like to have a go at answering those BoM produced sub headings from your experience/perspective from talking to those ‘most producers’ that can reel of a list of 10 without drawing breath?

    BTW. . .none of it is ‘rocket science’. . .and it has nothing to do with font type.
    “Most producers” are good people with good hearts, nice families and even nice pets. . .there is no need to feel like you need to chew off your right arm when you talk to them.
    And please. . .if you come up with any more of that ‘I can only conclude’ rubbish or falsely accuse me of attacking science. . .I will then MOST DEFINITELY CONCLUDE. . .that it’s simply not worth my time and effort.

  8. Comment from: Luke


    Sorry Debs I must have misunderstood your last 100 posts. My blue.

    Not critical of the research effort – well I am !

    OK a list of 10

    (1) greater accuracy, greater certainty, higher reliability
    (2) current skill levels not really good enough, more information on what skill means
    (3) northern animal industries want an idea of coming summer rainfall before June.
    (4) predict the season break
    (5) predict the passing and impact of the MJO
    (6) give terciles not exceeding median
    (7) predict next planting opportunity
    (8) predict first and last frost
    (9) local regional 2 days courses in the above plus weather
    (10) better software data tools to compare different systems
    (11) rainfall in the next 2 weeks
    (12) variants of the above but for streamflow

  9. Comment from: Debbie


    Not a bad wish list Luke,
    How much research is being done in those 12?
    Actually they aren’t too bad at 9 and 11.
    Interestingly. . . IMHO. . .sites like these do a better job than BoM and CSIRO at presenting some of the info:
    http://www.yr.no/place/Australia/New_South_Wales/Coleambally_Creek/
    http://www.willyweather.com.au/nsw.html
    http://www.eldersweather.com.au/
    Even more interesting. . . 2 of those sites use info directly from BoM. . .but their sites are far more ‘user friendly’.
    Most of the pilots in our area recommend the 2nd one.
    So why are you now suddenly critical of the research? . . .you have been continually berating me for being critical.
    Are they perhaps being directed to FOCUS away from these things?
    Will find you the figs tomorrow that demonstrate funding has gone UP not DOWN for BoM and CSIRO. . .can’t do it tonight. . .too busy.

  10. Comment from: Luke


    But where has the money gone Debs. New Doppler radars are expensive ! You need some details.

    Critical? – POAMA a bit too black box. It’s a bit take it or leave it. Like a good comparo of the old seasonal forecast system vs POAMA 2.4 (and add in the SOI phase system).

    Need to know more detail on exactly how POAMA forecast is produced.

    Like a good run through skill testing and have it explained.

    POAMA not on the money since it has been released. Sample size of one but would like some comment. Also what gives with the Qld drought? Mysterious to me.

    Reckon BoM should do a Webinar briefing for each month’s seasonal forecast release or Youtube.

    But similarly I’d say critically to Jen – don’t make bogus out of date comparisons with POAMA 1.1 using a downscale method BoM don’t use. And if the neural nets are so good – where’s the web site so YOU Debs/the producers/landholders can use the system or check it’s practical use?

    Other researchers have done seasonal forecasts and not claimed everything under the sun nor seemed to need to do the system to score one up on BoM – it’s about the needy users isn’t it? Or is it?

    The main issue with all forecasts is to understand where you the farmer/grazier/miner/tourism operator/civil engineer need to make critical weather and/or seasonal climate decisions. How does the climate science link into the business. Maybe in some cases it doesn’t/can’t. If the research says low skill – sorry we don’t have anything useful. Pick climatology.

    I’m amazed that you couldn’t give me any forecast needs (as per 1 to 11 above) for your operations. I really am ! Maybe it’s an anonymity thing. Although I suspect tracking down someone called Debbie into water agropolitics and rice growing wouldn’t be too hard. However, I don’t do such things as surely the ideas are what we’re here to discuss not try to personally harass individuals in their real life.

  11. Comment from: Debbie


    Luke,
    There is no point in complaining about Jen to me. . .take it up with Jen.
    I’m happy for anyone who wants to improve regional seasonal forecasting to have a go. . .when that area of research gets better then people like me will be very appreciative. I don’t care who ‘cracks it’. . .BoM, CSIRO, Abbot/Marohasy or whoever/whatever. I would reasonably expect BoM should have the best chance as it has access to vast public resources. . .but I still don’t really care who it is that starts to put those pieces of the puzzle together successfully.
    And No. . .that does not mean that I expect 100% certainty or that I think it’s all bad. But it does mean that I would reasonably expect some measureable progress in this area (not PR spin)
    But. . .pleased to note that you can see there are some communication problems with the customer base. . and a need for clearer feedback loops and some sensible streamlining of access to information.
    As per your question about the money. . .of course some of it has been invested in new technology. . .but IMHO rather too much of it has been invested in a single minded attempt to centralise NRM and to produce a lot of fairly meaningless material based on large scale averages / means / averages. It’s interesting and clever and is useful for window dressing, justification for NRM rules and regs and PR work. . . but not much else.
    For at least 10 years (and I’m guessing you’re not going to like this). . .any NGO or rep organisation that applies for Govt funding re NRM (including ag organisations). . .has learned they have to include a focus on “Climate Change” in their applications. . .or access their funding from other sources.
    Interestingly. . .the mantra is those ‘other sources’ of funding are suspicious. . .with no recognition that it isn’t and shouldn’t be all about CC.
    The reason why the CSIRO office in my area is nearly empty and why most of the excellent people who used to work there have gone elsewhere. . .is because the funding and resourcing has been directed elsewhere. . .Guess where?
    As I have often said. . .and now notice you concede via your comment to DaveMyFace at the open thread. . .I do not blame the individual researchers/scientists as they are employees and are required to fill their job descriptions. . .just like any other employees.
    So the problem IMHO. . .is the job description.
    Finally. . .your amazement . . .I’m truly amazed that you’re amazed.
    All of us out here who work in the REAL environment/climate/weather are by necessity realists and risk takers. We would all dearly love ‘climate science to link into our businesses’ and be business partners. . . but. . . (and you’re not going to like this either I suspect). . .our experience is that current NRM bureaucracies want to have all the accolades & resources and centralise the data bases, the rules and decision making. . . but load all the risk and financial responsibility onto their clientele and regions.
    No offence. . .but they don’t seem to comprehend what being a business partner means to people who run their own businesses. . .all the way to simple things like risk management, CBAs, cost structures, cost sharing, cost recovery, CVPs etc…
    I also concede that the fault partly lies with us as we have all been raised to respect authority and believe that the public service works to serve the public.
    In NRM. . . that is very unfortunately not the case. . .those depts have been systematically turned into something like policemen because of the overriding centralised NRM rules and regs that is now their ‘job description’.
    The pathway to delivering ecological goods and services has not lived up to anyone’s expectations and once again, very unfortunately, has successfully demonised, marginalised and seriously ticked off the very people who should and could be working with those in ‘authority’.
    IMHO. . .the trust and respect has to be restored before any real advances in NRM can happen.
    And as I said previously. . .am fine with anonymity. . .and would fight for your right to maintain it. . .but will not accept you using it to make totally unsubstantiated personal comments. . because it is irrelevant and boring…and will consequently view any attempts at discussion as a waste of my time.

  12. Comment from: Luke


    Debs I’d like to say something positive to you but I find it very hard to get much across the void.

    Modern science does have a problem – it’s called managerialism and the application of business principles to science. Driven by management not the science community.

    Blame Harvard Business School. We were warned as early as 1991

    http://www.the-rathouse.com/2010/Philip_on_soils__science___models.pdf

  13. Comment from: Debbie


    Luke,
    So far, so good. . .and happy to continue. .
    Thanks for the Phillip doco.
    Interestingly. . .it has many remarkable similarities to some of Jen’s recent posts on science and philosophy.
    Your comment re Phillip’s term ‘managerialism’ is not particularly different to mine re ‘job description’ so in that respect there is apparently not a void.
    However. . .I do not agree that it is ‘modern science’ that has the problem or suffering from this disease. . . or that it is solely the fault of Harvard Business School or your very loose usage of the term ‘business principles’.
    Those type of statements and broad brush conclusions would likely be coming from someone who has little to no experience in PERSONALLY running a REAL business (that produces REAL stuff that REAL people need/want in their everyday lives). . . and inclined to believe that all the ills of the world are some one else’s fault and someone else’s responsibility and that ‘THEY’ (whoever they is) should be forced to fix IT (whatever IT is).
    The particular issue we are discussing here (IMHO) is not new and it resides in the culture and the mindset of NRM bureaucracies and a single minded attempt to centralise NRM policy with attendant & totally impractical ‘one size fits all’ rules and regulations that completely & massively fail to recognise that the Australian Environment/Weather/Climate is highly, highly variable and couldn’t give a rats’ about centralised State, Federal or International NRM legislation.
    That culture and mindset has successfully demonised, marginalised and seriously ticked off the very people who could and should be working with NRM bureaucracies and that actually INCLUDES much of the ‘science community’ who work or have worked in regional and rural Australia.

    So even if it may have something to do with ‘business principles’ from ‘Harvard Business School’. . .the simple facts are that it is NOT DELIVERING GOOD RESULTS and NOT LIVING UP TO ANYONE’S EXPECTATIONS as a successful pathway to the delivery of ecological goods and services.
    It appears that Phillips thinks so too?

    (IMHO) to ‘double down’ and create ever more contradictory rules and regulations and even more centralising of departments fits a well known definition of ‘insanity’:

    “To continue to do the same thing, over and over again, and expect a different result.”

    In my world. . .from across your void. . .that would definitely be classed as ‘POOR business practice’.

    Good business practice includes things like: build on and improve what works, take responsibility for and fix mistakes, create value, invest in the future, invest in R & D, invest in good financial advice, use resources wisely and sustainably, embrace change and new technology, create strong partnerships & etc….

    Are there bad/lazy/unscrupulous businesses/business people in Australia?. . .of course there are. . .just as there are lazy and unscrupulous people in every single human endeavour we could name (like bad doctors or bad dentists or bad lawyers or bad accountants or bad nurses or bad builders or bad truck drivers or bad mechanics or bad shop assistants or bad scientists & etc…)

    But is it all bad and is the sky falling in around us and therefore necessary to create more and more centralised ‘nanny state’ rules and regs ?

  14. Comment from: Luke


    Sigh – but your small business is not government and not a research agency. And nor should it be.

    “Good business practice includes things like: build on and improve what works, take responsibility for and fix mistakes, create value, invest in the future, invest in R & D, invest in good financial advice, use resources wisely and sustainably, embrace change and new technology, create strong partnerships & etc….” yes and we’d agree to and aspire to a great many of these.

    However if agricultural innovation had been user driven throughout history you may have ended up with a titanium coated digging stick with a GPS mount. Missed the tractor. So incrementalism condemns you to paradigms. Research needs to take risks. Some won’t pay off. What’s the difference between persevering and tenacity and being stupid?

    An example – Leucaena is a high quality, long-lived leguminous forage tree. First introduced by CSIRO in the 1950s for extensive grazed systems for tropical Australia. Problem is that the mimosine compund causes the hair on cattle to fall out. Normally you’d give it away. However, a bright spark decided to try to introduce rumen bacteria from goats and cattle in Hawaii. Incrementalism doesn’t get you there. Off the wall innovation does and did.

    Similarly putting BT toxin by genetic engineering into cotton plants.

    Harvard has introduced endless reporting, projectising and performance indicators which have dumbed down science output and reduced many things to common denominators. Science is too hard and kids now avoid a STEM education. (science technology engineering mathematics). Science by massive consensus panels creating group think and difficulty to criticise (yes like Jen dislikes).

    So great science innovation comes from some spontaneity, cross disciplinary action and needs nurturing not badgering. Additionally science is not like water – you can’t turn it on like a tap. May take 15-20 years for a scientist to become useful. Teams perhaps a decade to build.

    Tell that to your noveau no-content science management professional and political appointee who’ll only be around 3 years till they move on. Now running the shows.

    But alas more than ever – pollies like winners and every cent must be raked over and allocated according to a grand plan. Prepare to become the white trash of Asia.

  15. Comment from: Luke


    “But I believe Harvard deserves much blame for the sad state of the administration of scientific research and undertakings throughout the Western world.” Phillip – page 94 !

    I guess you’ve got an MBA ! :-)

  16. Comment from: Debbie


    Sigh indeed,
    You are starting to evade the meat and therefore the point of this discussion Luke. . . and reverting to ‘lecture mode’.
    I read what Phillip believes on page 94. . .it is a well informed opinion re his experience with the system. . .but an opinion nonetheless.
    My comments/opinion re ‘job description’ are indeed quite similar. . .but also much broader. . .the developing communication problem between NRM bureaucracies and their client base is not solely based on Harvard Business School’s idea of administration of scientific research. That is a rather simplistic conclusion and an easy way to shift responsibility.
    No I don’t have an MBA. . .my business experience comes from Aussie education plus a good dose from the school of hard knocks. . .however I don’t lack a good tertiary education. . .nor considerable experience working from both sides of your supposed void.

    You seem to believe that you have said something here that isn’t well known?

    However if agricultural innovation had been user driven throughout history you may have ended up with a titanium coated digging stick with a GPS mount. Missed the tractor. So incrementalism condemns you to paradigms. Research needs to take risks. Some won’t pay off. What’s the difference between persevering and tenacity and being stupid?

    Can I suggest that people who run their own agricultural businesses and the scientific/research community who actually work with these people are fully aware that there is a very fine line between perseverance and stupidity?

    Can I suggest that the single minded attempt to centralise NRM is very likely an excellent example of stepping right over the top of that fine line?

    May I also suggest that this is a bit of a diversion from what we’re really discussing?

    But anyway. . .of course:

    but your small business is not government and not a research agency. And nor should it be.

    If you actually get that. . .then why are you missing the real point of contention here that government (and in this instance we are particularly discussing NRM bureaucracies) has increasingly lost credibility with the businesses that work in the NRM space ?
    To say this:

    Tell that to your noveau no-content science management professional and political appointee who’ll only be around 3 years till they move on. Now running the shows.

    But alas more than ever – pollies like winners and every cent must be raked over and allocated according to a grand plan. Prepare to become the white trash of Asia.

    Is on the one hand just stating the bleeding obvious and on the other hand an example of an attempt to shirk responsibility with an overly simplistic conclusion.

    “So great science innovation comes from some spontaneity, cross disciplinary action and needs nurturing not badgering. Additionally science is not like water – you can’t turn it on like a tap. May take 15-20 years for a scientist to become useful. Teams perhaps a decade to build.”

    Of course Luke!
    Also, unfortunately, very unfortunately, teams and research endeavours can be instantly devastated by the stroke of a pen or the wave of an “environmentalist” arm. (and I mean the political movement. . . not the ACTUAL environment itself).
    The ‘environmental movement’ has done exactly what you’re now complaining about when we consider NRM/agricultural research that doesn’t fit their very, very limited paradigms. . .they’ve badgered it!
    But as I said before. . .responsibility rests on all sides. . .those who live and work in regional/rural Australia need to pay more attention and insist on being heard.
    There really shouldn’t be such a widening chasm. . .we were all raised to respect authority.

  17. Comment from: Debbie


    Oh! forgot this one:

    Science is too hard and kids now avoid a STEM education. (science technology engineering mathematics). Science by massive consensus panels creating group think and difficulty to criticise (yes like Jen dislikes).

    This is yet another simplistic conclusion that once again states the obvious but on the other hand avoids responsibility.

    You point the finger at Harvard principles (which is of course a contributor) but once again this is a bit of an example of ‘washing your hands’ of responsibility.

    Scientists and researchers are not stupid people and there are many of them who are highly critical of the way public ‘environmental sciences’ have been funded and managed.

    What happens to them when they publicly voice those criticisms and which branch/bunch of scientists and researchers are mounting those attacks with the tacit approval of our very own NRM bureaucracies and our very own NGOs?

    As you must be aware, Jen has been on the receiving end of such behaviour.

  18. Comment from: Luke


    No it’s not a simplistic conclusion with STEM – it’s a fact.

    One is told that one works for CSIRO or a state research agency and publishes at the privilege of the agency. It’s not a right. These organisations are not universities with academic freedom. One doesn’t get to talk independently on behalf of the agency unless permitted. Code of conduct (thanks Harvard) now has whole courses on what determines a conflict of interest.

    However, all said and integrating under the curve I think managerialism and content-free administration has gone too far. The nation will suffer strategically, economically and environmentally as a result.

    Environmentalism hasn’t trashed soil science in Australia – it’s mainstream government. The same with much agricultural research – Treasuries have decided to leave the field !

    I think Jen is a big grown up girl and knows what she’s doing. However with freedom also comes responsibility.

  19. Comment from: Luke


    You talk about responsibility Debs – agricultural and natural resource science is just trying to survive ! Hanging on by a thread in a managerialist swamp.

  20. Comment from: Debbie


    I agree they are barely surviving Luke,
    I just disagree about the trite and simplistic conclusions you are drawing like here:

    “Environmentalism hasn’t trashed soil science in Australia – it’s mainstream government. The same with much agricultural research – Treasuries have decided to leave the field !”
    3 things Luke:
    1) We are most definitely NOT just discussing soil science (despite the fact that Phillip does )
    2) The MONEY is still available. . .it has been redirected elsewhere and it most definitely does include strong pressure from the “environmental political movement”.
    3) Soil science and agricultural research. . .and what most soil and ag researchers would see as bleedingly obvious. . .work best and get the best results when they work hand in hand.. . .the single minded attempt to centralise NRM via ‘environmental concerns’ has all but destroyed that important and productive relationship.

    Here’s a thought. . .considering you are avoiding some of my questions.
    If you are someone like Turney or Gergis & etc. . .there is not much of a problem gaining access to resources and no worries about applying for more funding for future projects. Even that Lewandowsky tosser got a hefty lump of public funding for his pseudo psychological research re responses to ‘climate science’. . .why is that do you reckon Luke? Is he more deserving than well qualified soil scientists and can he make a real difference in ‘climate science’ research?????

    BTW. . . there isn’t a dearth of funding for science and research. . .it has gone up quite considerably . . . one of your questions re WHERE (!) it has gone is probably more relevant.

    Yes Jen is a tough person. . .not enough of those who probably should be criticising the current situation . . .are as tough as she is.

    So. . . while I do concede that more scientists SHOULD speak up and take some responsibility. . .that one is a very hard road. . .as people like Jen have discovered.
    How many of the science community, who have families to support, would speak up like Jen and few others have?
    I don’t think we can blame them. . .but that is most definitely part of the problem.

  21. Comment from: Luke


    Avoiding questions? Debs that your trademark.

    Haven’t read any of Lewandowsky’s material actually but I know he’s a big issue with sceptics. Most of the people you are complaining about are from universities.

    Debs if state agency or CSIRO people speak out of turn in the current environment they’ll be terminated. Don’t come Monday. So you can be courageous and responsible and dead by Monday.

    In QLD EHP, DAFF, and DNRM has been slashed and culture of fear now pervades. All sorts of programs are simply gone. Treasury has staff capped staff numbers and even if external funds are available staff are not allowed to be temporarily employed. It’s now unwinnable.

    Nothing to do with greens or environmentalism. The beloved right wing experiment has pretty well smashed once world class capability. It’s a one size fits all mentality.

    Abbott and CSIRO about to do the same. Nothing to do with greens – you’re fighting a cold war that’s gone – the tide is going out and ain’t coming back. The talent is simply blocked, slashed, leaving, retiring, expiring and not being replaced.

    Even if Labor was returned it won’t be put back – all heil to Treasury, extreme right economics, and Harvard. Central agencies now rule. Both Labor and Libs will do the same.

    So I’m not suggesting a free for all – or a free ride and I am advocating we make calculated risks, back winners without too much red tape, strive for excellence, quality processes, peer review and innovation.

    But that’s exactly what you’re not getting. So how we increase agricultural productivity, product quality, locally add value, export to Asia and run an environmentally and sustainable show, which polling says a fickle public still demands, is becoming a pipe dream.

    Your National party members need to review where the Coalition’s philosophy is heading.

  22. Comment from: Debbie


    Luke,
    You are reverting to type a little bit.
    How does this:
    “How many of the science community, who have families to support, would speak up like Jen and few others have?
    I don’t think we can blame them. . .but that is most definitely part of the problem.”

    Differ particularly from this?
    “Debs if state agency or CSIRO people speak out of turn in the current environment they’ll be terminated. Don’t come Monday. So you can be courageous and responsible and dead by Monday.”

    On a few levels you seem to be ‘furiously agreeing’ with me but then you revert to your simplistic white hat/black hat political views that allow you to point the finger and blame something/someone else. . .replete with names like ‘right wing’ ‘your national party’ ‘sceptics’ ‘fickle public’ ‘extreme right economics and Harvard’ etc…..

    The simple fact is that Federal investment in science, research and innovation has gone up from $4.97 BILLION in 2002/03 to $9.08 BILLION in 10/11 and rising. (ABS 2012)
    Yet at the same time. . .as you point out:
    “The talent is simply blocked, slashed, leaving, retiring, expiring and not being replaced.”
    And as I have repeatedly pointed out. . .that is a chronic problem in rural/regional Australia.

    The simple questions are:
    Where and on what research has most of this money been spent?
    Why has the talent left?

    You appear to agree it has not been invested into:
    ” increas(ing) agricultural productivity, product quality, locally add value, export to Asia and run an environmentally and sustainable show ”

    So where has it been invested in Luke? Which branch of science/research has benefited from this increased expenditure and for what purpose?

    And Luke. . .are you now flipping off University PhD’s as somehow disconnected from all this and irrelevant? :

    “Most of the people you are complaining about are from universities.” ?????

    While I agree that much of the problem is political. . .I disagree that it has wings and only emanates from one institution or that it’s some type of ‘cold war’.
    That is a simplistic conclusion that allows people (especially those ensconced in Academia and Bureaucracies) to shirk their portion of the responsibility. . .and continue to trash R & D and continue to ‘tick off’ the very people (INCLUDING MANY, MANY EXCELLENT SCIENTISTS AND RESEARCHERS!!!!) who could and should be working with them.

  23. Comment from: Debbie


    And BTW?
    Who or what is this mysterious bunch called ‘the sceptics’ and sometimes ‘the deniers’?

  24. Comment from: Luke


    “Where and on what research has most of this money been spent?” well you can do some research and tell me.

    “Why has the talent left?” retirement, retrenchment, policy not to replace, reprioritisation, attitude of Gen x and y to STEM, agricultural and NRM funding has been de-prioritised/out sourced?.

    Universities – pretty mixed bag and they don’t deliver on long term programs. Where’s Jen’s forecast web site? Heaps of wanky useless stuff among some great material. Signal to noise ratio not the best.

    Most of the sceptics are disenchanted mavericks having some fun sticking it up the system. Have made a career of it in fact. But does it build anything? Achieves what really? Point to a system – bricks and mortar or a resource any sceptics have made? Yet they can raise $100,000s for Monckton and Watts vaudeville tours – pullease. Should have spent it doing a first principles alternative analysis of the met data they so complain about. If you were marooned with sceptics on a desert island they’d deny a food source might exist and the table would be bare.

  25. Comment from: Debbie


    Damn!
    You have lost the plot.
    How disappointing :-( :-(
    I restarted last time. . .not this time.

  26. Comment from: Debbie


    BTW. . .I’m no more interested in Monckton and Watts Vaudeville tours than I am in Flannery’s et al ‘climate council’ which has also raised funds for political advocacy. . .or Adam Bandt’s ‘climate criminal’ nonsense & etc
    I think they are all more likely a symptom of the issues we were starting to discuss . . .not a cause.

  27. Comment from: Luke


    Well Debbie instead of playing tag with me – why don’t you lay out the issues succinctly and propose a solution(s).

    Myself I’m not optimistic – I feel that govt agricultural and NRM research is entering the dark ages. Perhaps private enterprise will pick up the ball.

    BTW do you hear me promoting Flannery or Bandt material on a regular basis?

  28. Comment from: Debbie


    Tag team?
    Very funny Luke.
    Perhaps one solution would be to direct at least some of all that extra funding mentioned above back into Ag R&D rather than where it’s going atm?
    Another would be to streamline communication and to construct genuine consultation and feedback loops?
    Yet another could be to start appreciating and recognising what has been achieved rather than attacking and creating further excuses to police and create more centralised and inflexible rules.

    And while we’re asking & suggesting ‘solutions’. . . What is your solution/s for the climate?

    And no. . . not often noticed you promoting Flannery, Bandt et al. . .but have often noticed you defending them and what they say. . . and even using same terminology.

  29. Comment from: Luke


    Well how much funding Debs. Where is it? You tell me…. what are the broad numbers.

    And specifically what projects are you after?

    I’m after your ideas. Being morally and intellectually bankrupt myself.

  30. Comment from: Debbie


    Luke,
    Do you want to discuss these issues or not?
    I have offered some ideas to help alleviate what you have also recognised as a serious and developing communication problem between NRM Bureaucracies/ Academics and the people who could and should be working with them in productive partnerships (Including many excellent people in the scientific community)
    I have also asked you what your solution/s are for the climate.
    If I thought you were morally and intellectually bankrupt I would not be bothering to waste my time with you.
    So if it’s OK with you I would prefer you cut out the ‘victim mentality’ crap as I hear it often enough already from my own side of your supposed void and I have always found it to be totally unproductive behaviour. . .and usually ends up in childish finger pointing.
    Are you pretending you have no idea, or that you don’t care where most of the science, innovation and research funding has been directed?
    I am unclear why you would want to do that if that’s what you are doing?
    Before we get into specifics. . .wouldn’t it be a good idea to outline:
    a) What general areas of R & D investment are needed and why they would be needed?
    b) How to alleviate the disconnect and distrust that has developed between the PS / Academia and the private sector so that they can work together productively on shared goals
    ??????

  31. Comment from: Luke


    Debs – stop being a flake – you’ve had tons from me and you put nothing back except generalities. Again all you’re doing is playing tag. You have the floor – show some leadership… and I will listen. at 11:41pm above I asked some very easy specifics. If you have some serious ideas let it rip and I”ll listen – fill pages if you like.

    You’re making the accusations about funding being elsewhere – well should be easy to show – SO SHOW ME ! I’m seriously asking. No tricks.

    And you don’t like the programs, priorities or attitudes or consultation – SO SHOW ME and suggest some concrete alternatives.

    I’m out of ammo

    Stop reacting to me and show some leadership in the discussion. I am weary of playing tag with you.

    Either you have some specific points/information/arguments or YOU DO NOT. Over to you.

  32. Comment from: Debbie


    Well Luke,
    my 2 areas of experience and focus are water policy (local, state & federal) and native veg (local, state & federal).
    In both areas, the funding has been directed towards proving that water needs to be confiscated from agriculture and that farmers have to jump through ever increasing hoops to justify using best practice, efficient farming techniques ostensibly in the name of saving the ‘environment’ and ‘the common good’
    A very simple example is in this area. . . where we once had ONE bureaucracy to manage water resources (originally WCIC and later WRC). . .we now have 7 and rising. . . MI, CIL, SWC, NOW, SHL, MDBA, MIL, NWC. . . paradoxically managing less and with fewer paying customers. Add to that entities like CEWH,SEWPAC,CMA, OEH, DPI, BOM & CSIRO. . who although not directly paid by producers. . . are still inserting themselves into the arena and further complicating the legislation and the rules and regs. . .because it’s for the ‘environment’ and ‘the common good’.
    Does that look like a sensible way to manage water resources in the Southern MDB to you?
    If anything. . . native veg is even more of a dog’s breakfast.
    Since I put my hand up approx 5 years ago. . . even though I am most definitely very respectful of and believe in sustainable, envoronmentally responsible practice. . . along with using best technology. . . I have lost all respect for what’s known as the ‘environmental movement’ and those who have graduated via the ‘environmental sciences’.
    It’s not because I think they don’t care or that I think they are bad people. . . It’s mainly because they have NO IDEA about the people they should be forming productive partnerships with. . . and actually often believe that those very same people should be shackled and obstructed by ever more counter productive rules and regs. . . and that somehow. . . with zero experience. . . they know better. . . and that no one else can be trusted to ‘do the right thing’.
    Further. . . when well qualified scientists and researchers speak out about this increasingly dysfunctional relationship. . . they are very quickly ‘demonised’ and accused of suspect motives.
    But anyway. . .as it seems to be your pet topic. . . what’s your solution for the climate Luke?
    Over to you.

  33. Comment from: Luke


    No let’s keep going. This is much better. I did enjoy your last post.

    So what are your important and needy production, natural resource, and environmental issues. Not in the entire world – just in your general region. Or national/global if affecting local.

  34. Comment from: Luke


    Issues … I’m looking for some tangibles like errrr “how to get rid of carp” or “someone needs to develop infra-red thermometry for wheat irrigation” – I just made some stuff up here in an attempt to get some specifics ….

  35. Comment from: Luke


    Or is it all just water allocation and compliance requirements.

  36. Comment from: Luke


    Climate – my “solution” (really only adaptation) for you would be to get the best tools to help you manage weather and seasonal climate in your hands. And if possible to create some win-wins with carbon sequestration on-farm. Best future climate science to work out long term water allocations. And how future crop varieties might help adapt to and exploit higher atmospheric CO2, a changing/variable climate and also to improve water use efficiency. Also tax and economic measures that allow off-farm diversification to act as a climate stress buffer.

  37. Comment from: Debbie


    So Luke,
    Simple questions for you.
    What research and/or funding is being directed towards adaption. . .including R & D into further water use efficiency and future crop varieties?
    Carp is a problem and yet the programs/research re mitigating carp (as well other invasive species) have been axed. Why is that do you think Luke?
    What activities/ measures would you put under the heading of ‘off farm diversification’ that would act as ‘climate stress buffers’?

  38. Comment from: Luke


    Off the top of my head I don’t know. And I don’t know why southern MDB carp programs have been axed. You’re the one who’s telling me the funding story and complaining it’s all gone somewhere. So enumerate away.

    Off farm diversification – well strikes me if occasional bad droughts are the norm one needs off farm income to get through so some concessional tax treatments like Income Equalisation Deposits or better are needed. I would have thought such mechanisms that help farmers mitigate against no income years would be a part solution. But you tell me. You’re the user.

  39. Comment from: Debbie


    That is already in the pipe line Luke,
    Has been trialled in WA for several years and is being implemented (sort of) in the Eastern States.
    There are also other tax concessions and incentives that have been around for quite some time.
    Of course the EC funding that you have often criticised and the use of the NSW single export desk by Sunrice (a grower/producer owned business) that you have often criticised are also similar measures that have been around for quite some time and have helped to alleviate the variability.
    These are not new ideas that would need further administrative measures and/or further legislation.
    In fact. . .one of the problems with what’s happening now is that we are witnessing a counter-productive ‘double up’ in admin as the Feds are muscling in on the admin side of these types of programs with extra departmental staff and extra ‘policing’.
    It is interesting that you seem to think that we need ‘more issues’ to look for.
    I think instead that we need to streamline the system, create genuine feedback loops, restore trust and respect and then just get on with it!
    Once the dysfunctional relationships between rural/regional Australia and NRM bureaucracies/academics have been repaired and we have scientists and researchers working in regional areas who have a GENUINE understanding of both the environment and rural/regional communities rather than the current mindset that is often far too busy conveying allegations that primary production and agribusiness is some kind of juggernaut of environmental destruction . . . there are plenty of opportunities for R & D in productive partnerships.
    BTW. . .I note you didn’t answer my basic question re water resource management (and it includes BoM and CSIRO)
    We are not suffering from a lack of admin staff or a lack of the ability to collect data. . .it is rather the opposite. . .too many, too much (with no real purpose behind it). . .and the ability for all of these entities to avoid accountability, do ‘busy work’ (that attracts govt funding) and construct ‘big boys toys’ in the name of ‘water savings’ that squander gravity . . . and then load all the risk onto fewer paying customers.
    That is not sustainable (IMHO).

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