There once was a time when the CSIRO was a great scientific research organisation where clever people were encouraged not only to work away trying to discover exciting things but to spread the good word about their findings in ways that might educate the rest of us. That open-minded ethos, it seems, is no more. The CSIRO of today has been nobbled by a combination of the principles of user pays and outright fear of upsetting a government.
The latest example of official CSIRO timidity was reported this morning in The Canberra Times in a story revealing that a group of senior scientists working on climate change have been gagged from speaking out about Australia's proposed greenhouse gas reduction targets. Fortunately the four scientists are made of sterner stuff than their bureaucratic superiors. Michael Raupach, John Church, Pep Canadell and James Risbey, the paper says, have broken ranks with CSIRO to make personal submissions to a Senate inquiry into the Rudd Government's emissions trading scheme. They claim tougher targets are needed to avoid Australia being ''locked in'' to dangerous climate change, and list 14 recent scientific findings that support their argument.