21 January 2010

Senator Brown's life in a parallel universe

According to The Canberra Times, CSIRO hydrologist Dr David Post stated that there was "no evidence" linking the drought in eastern Australia to climate change. In response, leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, made an extraordinary claim:

We should ask why CSIRO is prepared to turn an unaccountable blind eye to recent climate trends in Tasmania. This undercurrent of scepticism would seem to suggest the report has been politicised.

While the Rudd Labor government has been ridiculing climate change sceptics opposed to its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), which will be re-introduced into Parliament for the third time after two failed attempts to have the legislation passed, Senator Brown believes the findings are a result of the CSIRO "caving in to political pressure".

If there is any political pressure that is influencing the work of the CSIRO, it is pressure to avoid publishing research that conflicts with the government's climate change policy, as was the case for Dr Clive Spash, whose research was suppressed because it was critical of the government's CPRS.

Dr Post does not actually rule out the possibility that the drought in the Murray-Darling Basin was caused by climate change:

At this stage, we'd prefer to say we're talking about natural variability. The science is not sufficiently advanced to say it's climate change, one way or the other. The jury is still out on that.

The report from the CSIRO Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project puts the current drought into context:

Annual rainfall in the southern MDB for the ten-year period 1997 to 2006 was significantly lower than the long-term average but similar low-rainfall periods occurred in the 1890s and around 1940.

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