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Climate policy is a fiendish problem for governments – time for an independent authority with real powers

Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty writes in The Conversation (27.3.18) that scientific problems, such as the impacts of climate change, require evidence-led solutions. He suggests that a new proposal to create a federal environmental decision-making body would take some of the politics out of climate policy.

‘From global epidemics to global economic markets to the global climate, understanding complex systems calls for solid data and sophisticated maths. My advice to young scientists contemplating a career in research is: “If you’re good at maths, keep it up!”

‘I’m no mathematician – my research career has focused largely on the complexities of infection and immunity. But as recently retired Board Chair of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, I’ve been greatly informed by close contact with mathematically trained meteorologists, oceanographers and other researchers, who analyse the massive and growing avalanche of climate data arriving from weather stations, satellites, and remote submersibles such as Argo floats.

‘My perception, based on a long experience of science and scientists, is that these are outstanding researchers of impeccable integrity.

‘Among both the climate research community and the medically oriented environmental groups such as the Climate and Health Alliance and Doctors for the Environment Australiawith which I have been involved, there is increasing concern, and even fear, about the consequences of ever-climbing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.

‘… What can be done? Clearly, because meaningful action is likely to impact both on jobs and export income, this is an impossible equation for Australia’s elected representatives. Might it help to give them a “backbone” in the form of a fully independent, scientifically and economically informed statutory authority, endowed with real powers? Would such an initiative even be possible under Australian law?’

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