Facing criticism in the lead up to the U.N. Climate Summit, which prime minister Stephen Harper did not attend, the Harper Government released a new public outreach campaign through Environment Canada. Already critics are pointing to the apparent disparity between the Environment Canada campaign and Canada's waning reputation on the international stage.
Canada's so-called "War on Science" has made international headlines, especially after deep funding cuts led to the closure of some of Canada's most important research centres. Thousands of federal scientists from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as well as Environment Canada have lost their jobs as a result of the cuts. Since 2006 the Harper government has introduced strict communications procedures that prevent scientists from speaking freely about -- and at times even publishing -- their research.
Throughout 2013, 22 per cent of media requests for interviews with scientists were denied while requests in the past five months have increased by 50 per cent, the letter states. In total Environment Canada received just 316 media requests in 2013, of which 246 (78 per cent) were approved. Climate scientist at the University of Victoria and Green party MLA Andrew Weaver says the fact that Environment Canada is giving such a small amount of interviews is "shameful." What is more troubling, says Weaver, are the kinds of interview requests being denied.
It's been a strange year. From the never-ending carnival of calamity at Toronto City Hall to the scandalous subterfuge on Parliament Hill, from horrific attacks by the Syrian government on its own citizenry to disasters inflicted by extreme weather on the people of the Philippines, 2013 recalls Queen Elizabeth's description of 1992 as an annus horribilis. On top of it all, those of us who have taken on the often thankless task of trying to encourage people to care for the air, water, soil and diversity of plants and animals that keep us alive came under increasingly vituperative attacks from the media and even our own government.
More than 13 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product depends on healthy ecosystems, according to Environment Canada. it seems absurd to try to assign worth to something so vital we can't survive without it. Who needs nature? We do. Without nature, we would not be here. How do we put an economic value on that?
The press release had a pretty stark headline: "Haida Announce Termination of Russ George." George was the guy who persuaded the small impoverished indigenous community of Old Massett on Haida Gwaii to part with over $2.5-million. He did so under the pretense that dumping iron in the ocean to stimulate a plankton bloom would net lucrative profits in the carbon credit market. Losing the rogue geoengineer may be good for optics, but it is a meaningless step unless the Haida also jettison his junk visions to manipulate the oceans and climate.