Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Science itself is being undermined

THE GREENHOUSE MAFIA ( ABC 4 corners on the independance of scientists this week)

How do we encourage scientists to speak freely? We just do it ---instead of just saying we do it !!!

The media and non scientists quoting scientists is a major failure point that must be deal with if environmental risk management is to be more than a plaything of the powerful.
The complex issues of environment require competent scientists to be effective, not more quoted. The reporter and the reported , whatever his particular beef says " scientists say" without doing his job competently and letting the paradigm limiter speak .The love of simplicity stands in the road of truth; two sides of evidence are hidden; the desired certainty becomes a pretence for preaching - something that "I wanted to pontificate on ".as a result the public often get 2 sides to 2 stories that are complete furphies. No wonder there is confusion and cyniscm about environmental risks - we as scientists seldom get properly heard on our subjects ! take the shallow all over the place talk over the last few years on plantation monocultures VS manageing native forests. the preachers have moved from one side to the other and back again .Quick fixers!
No use either just blaming the polys . 4 corners does a great job, but even its best stories ( like ones on Murray Darling water ) are no where near half finished . The story is too often half told and told in the context of some red HOT preaching . Hearing Mr Turnbull waxing lyrical on Big ideas ABC radio) was more than I could bear . Sure we need to conserve water - but not the way some nanny poly and techno fix head would tell us .Science or technology? - Malcolm, make up your mind ! the big picture reality is even though its March, it will rain soon. Will Mr Turnbull then turn to something else to talk bullish about? More Short term brilliance, long term dullness and distraction?

Scientists, at least, have long memories and that's good for Australia's long term gain.
The govt spends billions on the environment , but do we in Australia have a professional environmentalists forum .see links NO - Uganda ( New Scientist this week )has one .
Who is the third world country then? Work here and find out . White board scandals ( where ministers trust themsleves to pin new tails on a host of people playing competing donkeys?? ) will continue while media and polys abuse scientists by USING SOME of their words. Misquoted - if your quoted at all !

Integrity in Action should allow PE's to follow the communities investment in their careers. Training and experience take 30 years at least, but we cut off scientists in their prime with the dopey drivel that " all people must expect to change careers" -Sometimes it is true, but Australia is clearly destroying its heavy investment into training environmental scientists to be effective. Peter andrews story (ABCstory) says it all.

If we keep going the way we have been (pissing off scientists with experience ) noone talking about the environment in that most complex area , will have a career longer than the period between elections - All the admissions of that reality on 4 corners last night was scary .

Whatever you say about the people involved in that story on 4corners, The situation in atmospheric science is symptomatic of a much bigger dumbing down and productivity loss factor in Australian life - one that affects thousands of austrailian scientists who have done time at universities and in the real world . I personally 6yrs Univ ) would not recommend any high school graduate to expend 4yrs at university with a view to practicing on real ground ecology or risk management while the profession of production ecology is clearly the plaything of every other man and his dog- let alone the enormously productive and distracting industries of fearmongers , dollar for good ideas merchants,token effort salesmen and bull market experts.