The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a draft of their latest in a series of reports on climate change. The Headline Statements give a short overview of the draft's contents. The draft report arrived on 27 September 2013, only days after the SaveEC.ca web services failure. We followed the reporting on this event in the news media. Below are our notes from that time.
Mike De Souza reveals that not only did the oil industry lobby Environment Minister Peter Kent and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver to overhaul Canada's environmental laws, they also specifically proposed that the changes be made through omnibus legislation. Two omnibus bills later and Canada's hard-won environmental protections lie in ruins.
There have been some interesting articles in recent days that reveal "responsible development" of Alberta's oilsands is nothing more than a catch-phrase.
The Harper Government's war on science is continuing apace, with their most recent target being the National Research Council of Canada. In his announcement of major restructuring at NRC, president John MacDougall uttered this jaw-dropper: “Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value." It is one of several statements in recent weeks that shows how the Harper Conservatives just don't get science.
It is now two weeks since the federal government removed Environment Canada's logo from weather.gc.ca. Most of the commentaries so far have missed the point. The changes were not made primarily to give more space for Conservative Action Plan ads (although they do), but were more likely intended to further marginalize Environment Canada so that it will be even easier to dismantle.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has finally admitted he doubts the scientific case for dangerous climate change. While he later backpedaled, what is more interesting is where Mr. Oliver is getting his information: from a noted climate-change denier writing for the Financial Post, and from articles published in The Economist.
Scott Findlay takes Minister Gary Goodyear to task over his claim that “no government in the history of this country has supported science as much as this government has.” Canada's funding ranking is actually the same now as it was in 2000, but with investments increasingly at the top of the "research pyramid". Findlay outlines the government's broad assault on basic science and invites you to "weigh evidence".
Environment Secretary Michelle Rempel has been defending the Harper government against charges that it is muzzling scientists. She does not deny the allegations, but instead makes a variety of spurious assertions while claiming to be "optimistic" about the investigation's outcome.
LAC staff muzzled because Harper has something to hide
Here is another case of muzzling by the Harper government that the Information Commissioner can add to her investigation. In February, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) introduced a new policy allowing its managers to suppress scientific publishing. DFO's US-based collaborators rejected the policy outright as an "affront". DFO scientists, naturally, couldn't comment.
Conservative MP Ryan Leef (Yukon) apparently doubts the scientific case for climate change and the affect it is having on polar bears. As Margaret Munro reports, the MP from Yukon Territory sent a school teacher constituent a letter arguing that polar bear populations have quadrupled in the past 40 years. As support, he provided a report from a trio of notorious global warming deniers.
Another case of muzzling at Environment Canada has emerged. Retired water scientist Marley Waiser has come forward to say she was muzzled in 2011 in the aftermath of her discovery of chemical pollutants in Regina's Wascana Creek. The reason? Officials "didn't want to upset the City of Regina".
MUST READ: Financier Jeremy Grantham writes in Nature that soaring commodity prices reveal we are running out of critical resources. In particular, phosphate and potash use "must be drastically reduced in the next 20–40 years or we will begin to starve." The problems are exacerbated by climate change, which he calls "the crisis of our species' existence." He implores scientists to be brave, speak out, and even risk arrest.
David Suzuki provides this profound insight on what is so very wrong with the Harper government's muzzling of scientists and gutting of research programs: "Without the kind of vigorous debate and knowledge that comes from having citizens informed by open discussion of science and information, we can’t even hope to have a proper democracy. A strong economy is important, but the biosphere is more important."