Monday, July 23, 2012

State of the Blog (2011-2012)

Yes, folks it's time again for the annual year-in-review here on HTWT. I'll link to last year's post so that when I come back here next year I can follow the digital trail of breadcrumbs into my own past. Without fear of reversal, I can say that this past year was truly an exceptional one on just about every level. Right now things are really looking up for the future and I hope that my current streak continues.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Crisis in Canadian Science?

 The Experimental Lakes and the PEARL Arctic research lab are two examples of recent cuts to Scientific Research by the Government of Canada. Should Canadian Scientists be concerned about the future of research?

"Read the directions, even if you don't follow them" is a famous maxim from a 1997 column in the Chicago Tribune written by Mary Schmich which has direct relevance to the relationship between Science and Politics. There is concern here in Canada that the advice of Scientists is increasingly ignored and even unwanted in Political Circles.

For several years, a low-level conflict between the current Canadian federal government and many scientists has been brewing. However, late last year and early into the spring this sentiment has crystalized and broken out into the mainstream. There have been layoffs at many government ministries, talk of eliminating research scientists from government payrolls entirely, an increased emphasis on controlling the message within the public service, the termination of the position of Science Advisor and the closing or de-funding of several significant pieces of scientific infrastructure including Insite, the long-form census, the ozone network, the PEARL arctic research station and the experimental lakes.

I've been wondering for a while now just what I could contribute to this debate. There have been many petitions (ELA, PEARL, Census, Ozone). But with yesterday's protests in Ottawa and today's column in Maclean's by Julia Belluz, I feel like I can no longer be a simple signatory to such documents. In short, there are a few things worth emphasizing at a deeper level then the simple decrying of specific actions by the current government. A step back and a more thoughtful approach is required.