Section: Analysis

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Opinions, insight, and analysis of environmental news and politics.

What the media had to say about the new IPCC report

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 web services failure. We followed the reporting on this event in the news media. Below are our notes from that time.

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Oil and governance

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.

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Information Commissioner to investigate Harper Government over Muzzling

BIG NEWS: Canada's Information Commissioner will be investigating the Harper Government over reports that it has been muzzling its scientists.

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Good versus evil in the oilsands debate

There have been some interesting articles in recent days that reveal "responsible development" of Alberta's oilsands is nothing more than a catch-phrase.

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The Harper Government's War on Science Continues Apace

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.

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Changes to weather site are one more step toward dismantling EC

It is now two weeks since the federal government removed Environment Canada's logo from 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.

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What we can learn from Joe Oliver

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.

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Gary Goodyear's claims found wanting

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".

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Stuff Michelle Rempel says

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.

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For fear of librarians

LAC staff muzzled because Harper has something to hide

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How muzzling paves the way for dismantling EC and DFO

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.

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MP Ryan Leef, polar bears, and climate politics in Canada

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.

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How muzzling places the Harper government in moral hazard

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".

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The crisis of our species’ existence

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.

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A strong economy is important, but the biosphere is more important

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."

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