13 July 2012

Call for international solidarity with Canadian scientists

As the federal government's assault on science encounters increased resistance from Canadian scientists, the international community increasingly takes notice. In a recent column in The Guardian, science writer Alice Bell suggests that our scientists deserve international support, saying "We can't pretend Canadian science is simply a Canadian matter any more than we can pretend we can separate the natural world from our political decisions."

Among other items, Ms. Bell mentions the cancelled funding for the Experimental Lakes Area, a  research facility for ecosystem-scale experimental investigations where scientists from all over the world have studied for generations. The facility has conduced internationally recognized research into climate change since 1968 and provided the first evidence for acid rain. Its closing has understandably generated international concern while further damaging our country's rapidly sinking reputation.

But our reputation is hardly the point. As Ms. Bell points out, our scientists' work has global implications. Making us look bad in the eyes of the world is a trivial matter compared to undermining the health of our planet, and losing institutions like the Experimental Lakes Area will contribute to just that. So her message is right on: the international community should defend our scientists for its own sake as well as ours.

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