Thursday, September 26, 2013

Defend Australian science from corporations!

(A Canadian in the city of Kitchener-Waterloo makes her support for science very clear)

New Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has wasted no time in answering the prayers of the coal industry and other big polluting corporations.

He has shut down the Australian Climate Commission which provided the government and the community with expert advice on climate change science. He has also foreshadowed the closure of other climate-change government bodies, namely the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

And in a further insult to Australian scientists, one which has even been criticised by government backbenchers, his is reputedly the first Australian Federal Government in 81 years not to have a Minister for Science.

It would be tempting to dismiss Abbott’s anti-science stand as deriving from his religious views - he was once a trainee for the priesthood and still takes personal advice from the arch-reactionary Cardinal Pell of Sydney.

But the attack on scientists is really part of a larger pattern of neoliberal revenge against advocates of evidence-based policy making.

David Suzuki, the well-known Canadian scientist, has linked Abbott’s moves to those of his ideological bedfellow, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

(September 16 rally in Toronto)

Suzuki states that “…the politicians and corporate executives… are driven by a totally different set of values, by the drive for profit, for growth, and for power”.
“Harper”, he says, “has cancelled virtually all research going on in Canada on climate change. He has muzzled government scientists: they are not allowed to speak out in the public, even in areas in which they are expert, unless they are first vetted by the prime minister’s office.”

(Toronto citizens rally in defence of science)

“That is what Abbott is doing,” he said. “It is criminal negligence through wilful blindness”.

Abbott is representative of big corporate interests that reject science if it does not serve capital accumulation. Last June, the head of Abbott’s proposed business advisory council, Maurice Newman, called for the renewable energy target to be scrapped “because he believes the scientific evidence for global warming and the economic case for renewable energy no longer stack up”.

Abbott’s pre-election policy for resources and energy took a climate change denialist position and further advanced the interests of the coal industry by proposing an investigation into the so-called “deleterious effects of wind farms.”

He has also imposed stringent new guidelines on the Australian Research Council which will divert funding from so-called “wasteful” research areas like arts and social sciences into areas that have immediate commercial application that can be utilised by corporations.

David Suzuki has called for Australian scientists to take to the ramparts, and the body representing 68,000 scientists and technologists, Science & Technology Australia, jas published a statement of “profound concern” about political interference in the awarding of research grants.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, scientists and their supporters held mass rallies in at least 17 cities as part of an Evidence for Democracy campaign. Reports on this campaign, and on the rallies, are to be found at item 7 in the Additional Reading links below.


Additional reading:

1. Climate Council faces ‘titanic struggle’, says Tim Flannery here (  )

2. David Suzuki accuses Tony Abbott of ‘wilful blindness’ to climate change here ( )

3.Tony Abbott’s climate change policy: the science is still crap here

5. Anti-science, effective climate change denialist Abbott Coalition Australian Government azes expert climate commission

7. Cross Canada rallies defend science against Harper Government’s anti-social offensive