Scientists of all disciplines not valued and viewed as obstructionists
by Donald Sutherland
Maurice Strong, Secretary General of the 1992 Earth Summit, calls Harper’s government, “The most anti-environmental government that we’ve ever had, and one of the most anti-environmental governments in the world.” From what I observe, it’s not only environmental scientists, all disciplines are under attack. There is disrespect, even distain, for all knowledge that points to truths counter to our ideological beliefs or economic agenda.
Environmental scientists are silenced, ignored, released, or retired early in favour of big oil rushing in for “economic development” or, in the case of crime policy, “fill the prisons to create safe streets,” or in the case of inadequately tested drugs, “fire the whistleblowers, don’t wait for further tests, issue licenses, big corporations have already done the research.”
Just as we begin the 21st century, we desperately need the expertise of every scientist in every discipline. Instead of muzzling and tossing them out, we should be encouraging them in their search for truth. We should be saying, “Don’t hide anything. Don’t fudge the facts.” Our survival and that of all species depends on halting our destructive ways and replacing them with sustainable solutions. We are on the verge of ecological collapse. The Living Planet Report of 2012 shows a very sobering and frightful decline in the earth’s biodiversity. For example, vertebrate populations, on a global scale, declined by one-third from 1970 to 2008, with an accelerating downward plunge. The latest carbon dioxide levels in the arctic measure 400 parts per million—this is considered the tipping point.
Despite a library full of research reports showing the dismal failure of US prison policy based on, “lock them up and throw away the key,” our government has doggedly pursued the same sure-to-fail policy designed to attract the support of ill-informed voters—a naïve public believes that streets will be safer if we scoop up more bad guys, build more prisons, cut rehabilitation programs, and quit serving pudding.
Scientists in the Department of Health, for a number of years, refused to approve the release of inadequately researched antibiotics, hormones, and chemicals into the food chain. They were bullied by senior managers and by Privy Council, backed by big corporate interests. Three Health Canada scientists raised the alarm to the Senate in 1998 about the dangers of Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone and were promptly fired. The government-appointed whistleblower protector deliberately stalled for years and years and finally closed the file.
Recently, Canada’s most northerly research station, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) ceased year round operation due to lack of federal funding. This draconian move was described by Dr. James Drummond of Dalhousie University as, “A stunning lack of interest on behalf of the Canadian government in long-term Arctic issues.”
How do we clear our minds when we are bombarded with excess information and mis-information: texting, ads, sports news, sound bites, and sensational crime reports? Seek silence, it’s enlightening!
Reprinted courtesy of Earthcare Connections, PO Box 1790, Wynyard, SK S0A 4T0. Phone (306) 554-LAND, email: email@example.com, www.earthcare.ca. Donald Sutherland is a career counsellor, personal coach, and mediator with special training in restorative justice. He is also a professional agrologist who divides his time between Saskatoon and Winnipeg, and he is also an active farmer in west-central Saskatchewan, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.