A student researcher at the University of Toronto has exposed a draconian shut-down of climate science in Canada. This is a first for Canada – an advanced democracy, but a democracy that has the resource-curse of vast oil sands potential. James Birch does research in a thirty person lab focused on climate change research and adaptations headed by Dr. Brad Bass, the co-recipient of the IPCC Nobel Prize for climate science.
Birch and his fellow student researchers have decided to go public, to get word out to voters, because climate scientists including Dr. Bass have had their jobs shut down and have been silenced. Writing to Clean Break Birch says that the professional climate scientists heading up the climate science labs have been forbidden to speak out.
“Our scientists have been muzzled, and their ability to go to press has become tightly managed by a new “media relations office” put forth by the Harper Government” says Birch.
Dr. Bass is among many other Environment Canada scientists who have had their jobs cut by the Harper government, yet, because of the complete muzzling of Environment Canada scientists, the Canadian voter is as unaware of this fact as US voters were of the extreme silencing of US scientists under Cheney and Bush. In fact, what is happening in Canada is even worse. Even Bush did not fire our leading climate scientists. We cannot just shoot the messenger.
“Over the past several months we have seen major cuts to Environment Canada that are leaving it without any real scientific or research power. We have seen many prominent scientific jobs cut, research funding slashed, and our ability to effectively do environmental assessment and management largely neutralized”.
“The tools and researchers necessary in order to adequately measure the consequences of the Athabasca Tar Sands are presently in a questionable state of limbo,” Birch says. He is brave to come forward with this information, as it must shortchange any possible future he himself might expect in climate science, after some years invested in the university level education to get to the position he is in in a lab headed by a Nobel-prize winning IPCC scientist.
This draconian move on the part of the conservative Harper government is so extreme that it has even received censure from one of its own party members.
“Environment Canada is now “open for business” – you may now hire their award-winning scientists at will, privatize their research and keep them from working in the public interest,” says conservative MP, Tony Clement.
Under the tar-sands-friendly conservative policy of the Harper government, new budget cuts “will effectively leave Environment Canada powerless and effectively useless.”
For Israel, which recently discovered oil, the lesson is clear. Even a real democracy like Canada can be corrupted by the Resource Curse. American politics have already been corrupted, and the effects are felt worldwide, as we have covered here, for example: American Elections Are Bad For The Nile Delta
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