…they are dumped in landfill.
This is the next step in an escalating right-wing war on honest science and public knowledge, both of which the authorities fear and despise.
Their target, says Canadian paleolimnologist John Smol, is “pesky data” that challenges the government’s corporate agenda. They’ve already gutted a long hit list of vital research programs in Canada, including the world famous Experimental Lakes Area research facility.
John Smol: “The ELA has been a jewel in Canada’s crown – go to any water conference in the world, you just have to say ELA and everyone knows what you’re talking about. And it costs nothing to maintain. $2 million, what’s that, a penny per Canadian, so we don’t get toxic algae blooms, acid rain? It’s like claiming to save medical costs by not letting people have tests and checkups, the long-term data you need to maintain health. The ELA is exactly the kind of thing responsible government should be doing. So why are they closing the ELA? Because it provided pesky data, that’s why.”
(Follow this story in Pesky Data: unspun science for dangerous times. Coming in 2014 from Between the Lines.)
Scientists and other citizens who value public knowledge are resisting the destruction. At a public protest in Ottawa, thousands of scientists carried banners declaring: No Science, No Evidence; No Truth, No Democracy. The stakes are that high.
I have no illusions about the real impact of petitions. But at least the current leaders need to know that some of us are opposed. Here is an opportunity to say so.
Evidence for Democracy is a Canadian organization of scientists and citizens “who care passionately about the role that evidence needs to play in decision-making.” Recently they sent out this urgent appeal:
Irreplaceable scientific information is disappearing due to the recent closure of seven libraries run by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and a number of Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada libraries.
Scientists are saying that many of the books, reports and data at these libraries have already been discarded or destroyed without being properly digitized.
This priceless information is essential for the protection and security of Canada’s waterways. In particular, historical data and information provides the only baseline by which changes in the state of Canada’s aquatic ecosystems and fisheries resources can be evaluated. Without such trend data, assessing the impacts of policy and management decisions is impossible.
Please send a message to the federal party leaders and your member of parliament calling on them to stop closing our science libraries, and to ensure that the remaining information from the closed libraries is made available in a timely fashion.
Katie Gibbs (conservation biologist), Executive Director, Evidence for Democracy
P.S. The CBC’s Fifth Estate episode, Silence of the Labs, is now available online. You can watch it here.