CSIRO Boss’s Conflicts of Interest – emblematic of climate industry

THE head of the CSIRO is at the centre of conflict of interest claims over her role as a director of a Tasmanian company that purchases land for carbon sequestration.

It was revealed in Senate estimates today that the peak science body’s chief executive Megan Clark is the director of Cradle Mountain Carbon Pty Ltd and is also on the board of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Cradle Mountain Carbon Pty Ltd is a private family company that sets aside land to store carbon as part of efforts to combat climate change.

CSIRO’s acting chief executive Mike Whelan said Dr Clark, who was absent from today’s hearing, was an officer of the highest integrity and the organisation’s board believed there was no conflict of interest issue. “She is driven on the basis of values and integrity,” Mr Whelan said. “I don’t see, on the face of it, any issues there and I have no doubt the board has assured itself of the fact there is no conflict of interest.” …

See also Bolt and ACM comments.

Dr Megan Clark’s apparent conflict of interest is emblematic of the entire industry. and part of the reason why the public is understandably sceptical about the severity of climate change and any carbon tax.

Firstly, what is this conflict off interest (COI). In medicine, COI has become endemic with so many medical doctor experts employed on drug advisory company boards, that governments admit they can not obtain unbiased advice and have to settle for biased one – as happened in the Swine Flu vaccine stockpile debacle. In this case, the BMJ Review article laments:

The investigation by the BMJ/The Bureau reveals a system struggling to manage the inherent conflict between the pharmaceutical industry, WHO, and the global public health system, which all draw on the same pool of scientific experts.

This is what the conflict of interest for doctors looks like:

Here is what Dr Megan Clark’s COI appears to be:

By directing policy and advocacy activities at CSIRO as it’s head towards climate alarmism and need for carbon reduction, and suppressing opposing views, Dr Megan appears to stand to gain in her other roles as a director and member of advisory board of companies who stand to greatly benefit financially. I don’t know the specifics of her financial arrangements and thus the magnitude of the conflict, but the conflict pathway is clear on current public information.

It is absolutely absurd of the CSIRO’s CEO Mike Whelan to try to dismiss the concern over this COI by statements like “She is driven on the basis of values and integrity,”. Well she may be, but how does the public know, and how is avoidance of even subconscious biases assured? If the Minister for Gaming was on the board of Aristocrat (poker machine manufacturer), would assurance of his integrity, especially from a subordinate, constitute adequate reassurance?

There is a second  concern of scientific bias. Dr Clark appears to be intellectually (as well as financially) committed to carbon reduction. She can not possibly head a scientific body charged with objective scientific advice on Climate Change to our government.

Generally, CSIRO appears to provide Commercially focused research and not Science, and the Australian Government can not claim it is basing its policies on science, if CSIRO advice is involved.

And politicians wonder why the public is increasingly sceptical of being taxed based on a ‘scientific’ scare.