Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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Bold Scientists in Kingston, Ontario: November 6

cropped-bold-scientists-front-cover8.jpgAuthor Michael Riordon in dialogue: Whole food for free range minds.

Thursday November 6, 1 – 2:30 pm. Room D214, Mackintosh Corry Hall, Queen’s University.
Map: http://www.queensu.ca/campusmap/main?mapquery=mackintosh.

Everyone is welcome.  Bring your own mind.

Co-sponsors: Studies in National and International Development (SNID), and the School of Environmental Studies.


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Bold Scientists on Green Majority Radio

A feature interview on Green Majority Radio:  Fresh from the New York City climate march, host Daryn Caister chats with Michael Riordon about Bold Scientists.

MR and BS, Green Majority MediaWe range far and wide: science and scientists – bold and not, knowing our place (in nature), who owns knowledge, hubris and humility, power and resistance… Far and wide.

Hear it here: http://greenmajoritymedia.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/419-bold-scientists/.

 

 


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“They cannot stop me from talking.”

Scientists Biased, Talk Too Much: Confidential government memo.

Details here, in Blacklock’s Reporter: minding Ottawa’s business, August 11, 2014.

Tar sands 2Tar sands, Alberta, Canada.  Photo: The Nation.

The primary target of the confidential memo, John Smol, is a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, a widely acclaimed paleolimnologist (fathoming the life stories of lakes), and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change.

Why does the Harper government want to silence John Smol and his co-researchers?  Because they know too much.  The current regime in Ottawa is an aggressive booster of the enormously destructive tar sands colossus, and is determined to keep Canadians strictly on message: tar sands = good for Canada, with minimal harm.  Period.  Trouble is, their message keeps getting shredded by the findings of honest science.

Why won’t John Smol shut up?  He knows too much:

“The huge problem is that many environmental problems are long scale.  They can take years, decades to show up – or longer, sometimes I work in centuries, even millennia.  But politicians think in terms of four years, at best.  Look at the tar sands – go ahead, pump it out as fast as you can, we’ll be out of here in four years, what do we care?  Industry is even worse, they think in quarters, 90-day intervals.  Costs for the future are horrendous, but they’re not in this fiscal cycle.  When things go extinct, they’re extinct forever.  You destroy a river system, it’s gone. Destroy a fish population, it’s gone.  How do you gauge what that’s worth?”

Delve into John Smol’s research, paleolimnology, and why he speaks out, in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science.  Available September 4, 2014, in print and e-book from Between the Lines.


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The Nazis burned books. Under the current regime in Canada…

…they are dumped in landfill.

Save science librariesCanada’s Science Library Closures Mirror Bush’s Playbook.   Details here.   More detail in The Tyee’s follow-up story, here.

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.

Please add your voice and help stop this erosion of vital public knowledge.

Thank you,
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.