Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A war on science?

A must read interview with Andrew Weaver, Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis at the University of Victoria, about the recent science cuts and on the possible closure of the Experimental Lakes Area, but also more broadly at what it is dubbed as "the Harper Government’s war on science": ..."But the problem is, of course, that what’s happened with NSERC, is the government has moved towards enforcing research that has more industrial applications. So I do have some grants that have industrial partners because it’s the only way to get funding. And there’s some areas that are conducive to that. For instance, when you’re working in climate it’s kind of okay to work with a hydro company — Hydro Quebec and BC Hydro — who are looking for information to inform them about changing precipitation patterns. But it’s totally not okay for me to accept money to do my climate research from an oil and gas company. So it’s very difficult to force industry and universities to work together. That has to come spontaneously. And it can’t be mandated. It shows another misunderstanding of how science is done. Science can’t be mandated. It has to happen through curiosity, through people coming together to explore questions they come up with."
And this is an interview with Thomas Duck, an atmospheric scientist from Dalhousie University, ... "One of the main funders of research in this country is NSERC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. They have a couple of key programs that they had to shut down in light of the recent cuts. One of them is the Major Research Support program the MRS program. So the MRS program supported that fungal program. It supported an incredible number of programs across this country, including PEARL.
Basically, these guys at the MRS program support any major project in this country. So, it’s incredible. There was a letter from all of the MRS principle investigators for all the different projects which really outlined how many there were. It’s astonishing.
So yes, the cuts that they had. You know, it’s always portrayed as a reorganization. But you know the facts on the ground are that’s not what’s going on. We’re losing major support programs that really keep the activity of science going in this country. It’s falling down around us right now."

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