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Commentary on research cuts

Written By: - Date published: 2:50 pm, September 29th, 2015 - 10 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, global warming, science, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , , ,

On a day when science is very much in the news, research in NZ is very much under fire. It’s not just lefties such as yours truly who think it’s mad to cut agricultural, especially emissions research.

Today’s anonymous editorial in The Herald:

Research cuts are worrying

New Zealand should have the world’s best agricultural science. Our farmers are the most efficient, Fonterra is the leading dairy trader, Federated Farmers sends trade envoys everywhere to testify that agriculture does not have to be a protected industry relying on public subsidies. So when Fed Farmers is concerned at staff cuts in the agricultural science agency, AgResearch, we should be worried. …

RNZ:

Concern for emissions research after jobs cut

The logic of sacking scientists researching greenhouse gases is being questioned, in light of the government’s insistence the solution to rising emissions will be found through scientific innovation.

Crown research institute (CRI) AgResearch is laying off 33 scientists and 50 technicians because it is scaling back research on greenhouse gases, and animal and forage sciences.

Labour climate change spokesperson Megan Woods said the government had always said research and development in that area was the silver bullet to meeting reduced emissions targets. “So to hear that we’re losing jobs in that area is concerning for me, and I want to know what the plan is from here.”

Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said it was incredibly short sighted to be cutting scientists in an area so crucial to New Zealand’s future. “The government has said that until we’ve got the technological innovation we can’t really address climate change and agriculture. “Given that agriculture constitutes such a large part of New Zealand’s emissions, AgResearch scientists are doing that core work, cutting science staff, cutting the technical staff, significantly reduces our capacity.” …

A consequence particularly dear to my own heart:

Research cuts send negative signal to aspiring scientists

Just over half of AgResearch staff have been employed at the crown research institute for less than two years, a “staggering” figure says the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS).

NZAS president Dr Nicola Gaston said by making the cuts the Government was telling young New Zealanders that careers in science were not for them. “This is a deeply concerning level of staff turnover for any organisation, let alone a science agency engaged in long-term research programmes which require continuity and stable working conditions,” Gaston said. …

Hey National – everyone opposes cutting agricultural research, and it blows away even the pretense that you care about climate change. What the hell are you doing?

10 comments on “Commentary on research cuts”

  1. tc 1

    Doing what all arrogant govts do by serving the top end of town and powerful oversaes interests at everyone elses expense.

  2. Editractor 2

    Another good commentary about the history, development and decline of AgResearch by a working scientist who used to work there – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11518965

    • RedLogix 2.1

      That article really struck a nerve with me. I’m old enough to remember what places like AgResearch were like in the 70’s. I too worked in a similar institution for about 5 years and well recall the quirks, perkies and ‘inefficiencies’ Dick Wilkins talks about.

      Yet despite this we got a lot of real science done.

  3. Bill 3

    If I’m ‘a guardian’ of the economy (as politicians of all stripes are) and I know that climate research will provide an irrefutable case for why the economy must be euthanised, then…kill the research. And horde and position for when the climate changes the research was pointing to hits and takes the economy away.

    Logical. Unethical. Stupid.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Hey National – everyone opposes cutting agricultural research, and it blows away even the pretense that you care about climate change. What the hell are you doing?

    National is just being National. Anything with a cost to it they’ll cut so that they can give tax cuts to the rich. They really don’t seem to understand the concept of building stuff.

  5. AmaKiwi 5

    The profession that ought to be phased out is egotistical politicians.

    They think they are so much more intelligent than the rest of us that they don’t need to ask for our advice. I am disgusted with ministers who don’t have entry level qualifications to work in the ministries they rule over like kings and queens.

  6. gsays 6

    Hi draco,
    I disagree with you that this move is only about money.
    I think it is a lot more sinister than that.

    We have a gutting of experienced journalists from newsrooms, coupled with a loss of senior scientists and institutional knowledge.
    I can’t help feeling that this is laying the groundwork for the introduction, and passing if legislation that will be unopposed, and not criticized

    GE anyone?

    It goes without saying that it will not be in the best interest of the citizenry.

  7. tracey 7

    Joyce wants scientists gagged, Key wants research cut… it’s getting positively evangelical in ole NZ

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    You don’t understand – the Gnats need to stamp out frivolous spending like agresearch and concentrate on productive investments like the flag commission. Those flag commissioners are really going to stay bought – but scientists have an unhealthy tendency to prefer so-called ‘objective data’ over the infallible utterances of Kim Jong Key.

  9. millsy 9

    These cuts have more to do with National’s slow jihad against anything publicly owned or provided than anything else.

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