CSIRO Chief Dr. Larry Marshall said that he is not thinking of backing down on his decisions to restructure the climate division following criticisms. He said that the backlashes and debates that followed his planned cuts “sounds more like religion than science.”

Marshall announced refocussing of research in CSIRO last Thursday, by shifting its attention from studying how the climate changes to adaptation and mitigation work, the Guardian reported. The decision to redirect the attention in climate science priorities attracted international condemnation, with a large number of  scientists signing an open letter to protest against the restructuring.

The Oceans and Atmosphere divisions would face up to 60 positions being redeployed or turned redundant, which is expected to be the hardest hit.

Since the changes were announced, Marshall has been busy explaining the restructuring and reassuring that there would not be a net loss of jobs.

“I feel like the early climate scientists in the ’70s fighting against the oil lobby,” the ABC quoted him as saying. “I guess I had the realisation that the climate lobby is perhaps more powerful than the energy lobby was back in the ’70s – and the politics of climate I think there’s a lot of emotion in this debate. In fact, it almost sounds more like religion than science to me.”

He added, “I’ve been told by some extreme elements that they’ve put me at the top of the climate deniers list and what perplexes me is how saying that we’re going to shift more resources to mitigation – i.e. doing something to address climate change versus just measuring and modelling it – I don’t see how that makes me a climate denier. It just seems to me the whole purpose of measurement and modelling the whole purpose of trying to understand climate change is then to figure out what to do about it – that’s where we’re trying to move to.”

He said that to make him reconsider the changes, someone needs to explain to him that measuring and modelling are more important than mitigation.