The recent bushfires in the Blue Mountains and other parts of NSW have highlighted a serious problem which is likely to become worse as climate change gathers momentum.
Governments and the general community will need to develop strategies to adapt to the diverse challenges thrown at them by climate change - challenges such as more frequent and more severe bushfires. Obviously this should be seen by all levels of government as a high priority.
It is therefore very disappointing that the NSW Government, which has a responsibility to prepare NSW for a future where climate change is a major issue, has made severe cuts to areas of the public service which advise government on climate adaptation. (For details of the cuts, see a report in The Sydney Morning Herald )
In a TV interview on the same day as the newspaper report the NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell stated that he was concerned about climate change and that his slashing of the public service positions did not mean that there would be no research into adaptation as the government was providing funding for universities to undertake reseach into adaptation.
Whether the decision to do away with the scientific positions was ideological or whether the Government believed universities would provide adaptation advice more efficiently or more cheaply is uncertain.
The Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition believes that the most effective way of ensuring that timely information on climate adaptation is delivered across the range of government departments which need this information for future planning is by way of scientists employed by the state rather than through a hodge-podge of state-funded research programs in universities.