Thursday, 30 July 2009

Climate crisis? Fire the scientists! – Stephen Harper

"Execution of the defenders..." by Francisco Goya. (courtesy Museo del Prado)
How to deal with the climate crisis? Canada’s Conservative government has the answer. Fire the scientists. No more funds. No access to government labs. The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) is being cut off.

[Note: quotations of scientists below have been translated back into English, and may not reflect their exact words. Références en français en bas.]

The Montreal daily Le Devoir has been reporting a 10-day long world climate conference here, MOCA-09. Canada’s English media have been strangely silent. More than 1600 scientists conclude that the greenhouse effect is happening faster than predicted by the IPCC, and the impacts worse. This is not what the Tories want to hear.

Heavily bankrolled by oil, coal, tarsands and high-energy-user lobbies, they reneged within a day on their July 8 commitment to the G8 climate target. In this and many other politically-loaded decisions they are trying to build rightwing support for a fall election. Harper’s decision to kill CFCAS plays to climate deniers and advocates of business-as-usual.

“Its funding will run out at the end of this year… there is no replacement program… a large number of scientists will be out of a job,” says physicist James Drummond of Dalhousie University. “Canada will lose the capacity to understand its own environment… [and] will depend on third parties” at a time when a major drought is hitting the Prairies, wildfires ravage BC, and Arctic ice is disappearing. The troposphere directly affects our agriculture and quality of life, he says -- each country impacts others: the Asian ‘brown cloud’ now pollutes Canadian skies, and our emissions reach Europe.

Visibly troubled by his own data, Drummond says that recent research confirms the most pessimistic of the IPCC scenarios (see graph below). The impacts will not be immediate, but they will last a thousand years.

Others foresee a brain drain. Ted Shepherd of U of T says his experienced researchers “are already applying for posts abroad”. His 15-year study, which gave “promising results” in the last 3-4 years, will be set back by a decade. Lawrence Mysack and Jacques Derome of McGill point to the hypocrisy of a government that hands out old rifles to Inuit to “protect Arctic sovereignty” while slashing research. Not only research grants are in question, but access to government research equipment at Environment Canada, NRC and Canada Space Agency may be cut off.

CFCAS director Dawn Conway soft-pedals the problem: the Ministry has “not said no, not said yes – but it’s now urgent…What good will sophisticated labs be if we don’t have the people to operate them, and funds for researchers?”

Canada’s retrograde move contrasts with the UN secretary-general’s call six months ago for massive investment in mitigation: "The economic crisis is serious; yet when it comes to climate change, the stakes are far higher. The climate crisis affects our people's lives, both now and far into the future.” Managing the financial crisis requires a global stimulus and "a big part of that spending" should be directed at fighting global warming. "We need a green New Deal." Two years ago he warned that "global warming poses as much danger to the world as war."
IPCC scenarios (click on graphic to see details)
See also details of UNEP's proposed Green New Deal aka Green Economy Initiative; North American Drought Monitor and forecasts.
En français: articles signés Pauline Gravel dans Le Devoir du 29-7-09 et 30-07-09; le New Deal vert de l'ONU.
15 Sep 2011: Industry Canada grants Laval University ArcticNet $63.7 million over 7 years to study the impacts of climate change in the coastal Canadian Arctic. 30 Canadian universities, 8 federal and 11 provincial departments and agencies are collaborating on 36 research projects with over 100 partner organizations from 15 countries. [It is not clear how closely this research is tied to corporations.]

1 comment:

GreenHearted said...

Is there a name for the crime that Stephen Harper is committing? When a leader puts not only every one of his citizens at risk, but condemns all future citizens, too?

My shame as a Canadian grows. Where is the outrage?

This anything-but-prime minister of ours has got to go.