Climate deniers deciding science funding in Canada

Pink and purple tulips

In yet another demonstration of the ongoing tensions between conservative political parties and science, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed a couple of climate change deniers to federal science funding bodies. One has claimed that “the climate-change issue is somewhat sensational and definitely exaggerated.” The appointments seem likely to worsen the quality of scientific work being done in Canada, putting us further behind the rest of the developed world, when it comes to comprehending and appreciating the characteristics of the world in which we live, and in which important political choices must be made.

This is reminiscent of the appointment of a man seriously invested in the oil sands to the ‘Clean Energy Dialogue’ ongoing with the US. The Conservatives claim that they accept the science of climate change, but they cannot really take it to heart because of the degree to which it fundamentally conflicts with a laissez faire approach to economic regulation.

All we can hope for is for climate change denial to eventually become so patently ridiculous to the electorate that parties that continue to dabble in it seem to be arguing the equivalent of the Earth being flat and orbited by the sun. That may be the only time at which conservative parties have the impetus they need to reform their ideas to be compatible with what we now understand to be the state of the world.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

6 thoughts on “Climate deniers deciding science funding in Canada”

  1. I wonder if the Liberals could use this as fodder for their next campaign. Sure, they don’t want to run on a carbon tax – but couldn’t “sound science funding” win them votes?

  2. Captive Knowledge
    Posted May 12, 2009

    The funding for academic research has been taken over by business

    By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian, 12th May 2009

    Why is the Medical Research Council run by an arms manufacturer? Why is the Natural Environment Research Council run by the head of a construction company? Why is the chairman of a real estate firm in charge of higher education funding for England?

    Because our universities are being turned by the government into corporate research departments. No longer may they pursue knowledge for its own sake: now the highest ambition to which they must aspire is finding better ways to make money.

    At the end of last month, unremarked by the media, a quiet intellectual revolution took place. The research councils, which provide 90% of the funding for academic research in Britain, introduced a new requirement for people seeking grants: now they must describe the economic impact of the work they want to conduct. The councils define impact as the “demonstrable contribution” that research can make to society and the economy. But how do you demonstrate the impact of blue skies research before it has been conducted?

  3. I wish I could just declare things to not be true when they’re inconvenient for me. I guess that’s what you get with power.

  4. Harper government attacks climate change science in Canada
    Published on January 11, 2010

    By refusing to renew Canada’s capacity for climate change research, the Conservative government is encouraging a mass exodus of Canada’s top climate scientists to other countries, Liberal MPs said today.

    “We urge the government to renew funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences,” said Marc Garneau, Liberal Industry Critic. “Ten years of leadership in climate change science is being sacrificed by the Harper government’s ideological opposition to fighting climate change. If this government was serious about climate change it would offer long-term, stable research funding to keep the best climate researchers in Canada.”

    The Conservative government has thus far refused to renew funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS), effectively signalling the end of climate science leadership in Canada. The CFCAS is the main funding body for university research on climate in Canada.

  5. Scientists Fight Back In Canada

    “The current Canadian government is widely regarded as ‘anti-science,’ and this year they have stepped up their efforts to undermine scientists and control their contact with the media. But now the federal scientists are fighting back and have just launched their own website. Gary Corbett, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, said, ‘If science isn’t supported then you’re going to find that decisions are going to be made more at the political level,’ on Monday as the union launched their website.”

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