Australian Scientists Demand Apology From Business Leader For ‘Slur’ On Their Profession


David Murray, former head of Australia's Commonwealth Bank and the Future Fund, on ABC Lateline.

It would seem the extreme fires, record-breaking heat, and ongoing drought are starting to affect behavior in Australia. First their new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, sparks a global response from the likes of Al Gore and U.N. Climate Chief Christiana Figueres to his off-base remarks about climate change having no impact on bushfires. Then a study finds that one-third of the articles in Australia’s major newspapers reject or cast doubt on climate science. And now a high-profile business leader in Australia has galvanized climate scientists, normally a non-confrontational bunch, to call publicly for an apology after accusing their profession of lacking integrity.

David Murray, former head of Australia’s Commonwealth Bank from 1992 to 2005 and inaugural Chairman of the Australian Government Future Fund from 2006 to 2012, told ABC Lateline earlier this week that “there’s been a breakdown in integrity” in the science of climate change and that “the climate problem is severely overstated.”

According to Market Watch, since January 2008 Australia’s Commonwealth Bank has loaned AU$1,503 million to coal ports and liquefied natural gas plants along Australia’s Eastern seaboard, where major fossil fuel development is harming the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Greens Party estimates that the Future Fund, meant for investment in the future of Australia, holds around AU$2.5 billion of its assets in fossil fuels, or around three percent of its portfolio.

During the interview Murray was asked what it would take to convince him of the science of climate change. He responded “When I see some evidence of integrity amongst the scientists themselves”:

“I often look at systems and behaviors as a way of judging something, and in this case, to watch the accusations that fly between these people suggests there’s been a breakdown in integrity in the science.”

The Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society was quick to respond to Murray’s accusations about other people making too many accusations. In an open letter, AMOS described the remarks as a “serious slur” and called for Murray to withdraw the remarks.

In 2011 Murray was reported as saying: “[Carbon dioxide] has got nothing to do with pollution. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is colorless and odorless. It is a tiny proportion of greenhouse gases. There is no correlation between warming and carbon dioxide.”

September 2013 was easily Australia’s warmest September on record, at nearly five degrees Fahrenheit above average. It also marked Australia’s record for warmest 12-month period for the second consecutive month.