It looks like no job is immune to outsourcing, not even climate scientist jobs in Australia. The country’s science bureaucracy is considering having all climate modeling work done in Britain after announcing the firing of some 350 employees, including 100 climate scientists.
Alex Wonhas, executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) told Australian lawmakers the science agency “was considering contracting some work to counterparts in the British Met Office,” The Hepburn Advocate reported Wednesday.
“I don’t think that I can credibly claim that everything [we are doing now] will continue,” Wonhas said, according to The Advocate. “There will be a reduction in our activity.”
It’s speculated CSIRO contracting with the British Met Office — the U.K.’s top climate agency — is part of an effort to cut the country’s funding of climate science while also showing the international community they still care about the issue.
“It is part of consultation and discussions with stakeholders about how research in the climate area can be maintained and maximised in the future,” a CSIRO spokesman said, adding that Aussie officials secretly planned to layoff hundreds of employees.
“There was concern that distress may be caused to staff if options for staff reduction, which are not yet finalised, were leaked or distributed,” he added.
Aussie officials announced they were cutting 350-jobs from CSIRO in February, including the possibility of laying off 100 jobs involved in global warming research. Obviously, the scientists fired were livid.
“Firstly the overall number of people in CSIRO is projected to be unchanged at the end of a two year period, however up to 350 people may lose their positions as we change the focus of our work program,” Larry Marshall, CSIRO’s chief executive said in a statement in response to media criticism.
“No one is saying climate change is not important, but surely mitigation, health, education, sustainable industries, and prosperity of the nation are no less important,” Marshall said.
The sad irony was politicians, activists and some scientists have long argued there was nothing more to debate in climate science. Now that line is coming to bite the very people it was meant to aggrandize — climate scientists.
“Proving global climate change? I don’t know what [Marshall] means by that,” Dr. Penny Whetton, a CSIRO climate scientist, told The Guardian. “That’s settled. What needs to be further pursued are the details of regional climate change.”
“I, and many of my colleagues, find this deeply insulting to us as scientists and our efforts over many years,” John Church, a CSIRO climate scientist, told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Rather than major cuts to climate change science in Australia, what is needed is both a reinvigoration and a refocusing of that research on Australia’s future needs.”
But news of outsourcing Aussie science jobs to the U.K. was not met with much excitement from some Met Office scientists.
CSIRO “outsource” makes no scientific sense. Climate is a global subject, important to have experts in *all* regions https://t.co/kw0WF7swWq
— Richard Betts (@richardabetts) March 8, 2016
The layoffs and potential outsourcing come after Australia’s conservative government agreed to the United Nation’s pending deal to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
Australia pledged to cut CO2 emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2030 while also contemplating CSIRO staff cuts.
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