A true bureaucratic
It is difficult to imagine how Penny Sackett earned her title as Chief Scientist for Australia. Last night she was interviewed on Lateline where Tony Jones predictably failed to get any interesting information out of her. Jones gave a half hearted attempt to question what I call the “Dorethea Mackellar” factor, whether or not the drought and now the flooding rains is not a natural cycle rather than a consequence of global warming.
TONY JONES: Do you believe then there is a connection between the extremes or the extreme events in the Southern Oscillation Index and overarching global warming, is there any proof of that?
PENNY SACKETT: The – what we do know is that we can expect an increase in the severity and the frequency of extreme events. What we cannot say is that any particular single event is related to global warming. It’s rather statistically the number and the severity of them.
Jones tried again:
TONY JONES: But do you have a report or scientific advice for those farmers in the Murray-Darling who are essentially being told they may have to pack up their farms and stop being farmers because of climate change and restrictions to water in the future, even though they’re looking at large volumes of water now?
PENNY SACKETT: I think that holistically Australia will have to ask questions about what sort of food it can grow, where it can grow and how it can increase productivity.
He asked and repeated the question in various forms at least five times.
On nuclear energy, Ms Sackett was just as unforthcoming. This was the fourth question Jones asked her on that topic. Her fourth answer of course was basically the same as the previous three.
TONY JONES: But if the Government asked for your advice as a chief scientist on whether nuclear power’s a viable option for Australia and whether it would be beneficial, what would you say?
PENNY SACKETT: I’d say that we would need to study it. We would need to get a series of experts in who would not only look at nuclear energy, but a whole suite of energy options and provide a report back. But I certainly wouldn’t be answering the question without looking carefully at the evidence.
On emission reductions, Ms Sackett was decisive.
TONY JONES: The Australian Government is currently promising a five per cent emissions reduction target. Do you regard that as a serious target that will achieve anything?
PENNY SACKETT: I regard any action that begins to reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as serious – any reduction.
And so the dreary interview finally came to its end. This woman presumably gets paid a lot of money. Tax payers may ask what for?
And what about Tony Jones? With his token “hard” questions, he displayed absolutely no impatience, or insistence, that Sackett answer his questions. He, after all, is also on the global warming gravy trail.