Remember how rules changes in 2007 basically muzzled climate scientists in Canada from providing interviews with journalists about evidence-based climate research? Remember also how a troll on this blog suggested it was really just the public losing interest in, you know, being “guilt-tripped” by the media about the current state of today’s climate?
Documents were recently obtained by Postmedia News proving these policies are in fact governmentally mandated. Apparently, climate scientists are not allowed to discuss floods or the last ice age without special clearance either.
The documents say the “new” rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply to not only to contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.
They also give a glimpse of how Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers, critics say, and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River.
“It’s Orwellian,” says Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at University of Victoria. The public, he says, has a right to know what federal scientists are discovering and learning.
Scientists at NRCan, many of them world experts, study everything from seabeds to melting glaciers. They have long been able to discuss their research, until the rules changed this spring.
These policies are squelching legitimate studies based on legitimate scientific evidence, out of some misguided fear that they may be used against Harper’s politics. To translate: reality might have political ramifications that are detrimental to the Conservatives’ platforms.
NRCan scientist Scott Dallimore co-authored the study, published in the journal Nature on April 1, about a colossal flood that swept across northern Canada 13,000 years ago, when massive ice dams gave way at the end of the last ice age.
The study was considered so newsworthy that two British universities issued releases to alert the international media.
It was, however, deemed so sensitive in Ottawa that Dallimore, who works at NRCan’s laboratories outside Victoria, was told he had to wait for clearance from the minister’s office.
Dallimore tried to tell the department’s communications managers the flood study was anything but politically sensitive. “This is a blue sky science paper,” he said in one email, noting: “There are no anticipated links to minerals, energy or anthropogenic climate change.”
But the bureaucrats in Ottawa insisted. “We will have to get the minister’s office approval before going ahead with this interview,” Patti Robson, the department’s media relations manager, wrote in an email after a reporter from Postmedia News (then Canwest News Service) approached Dallimore.
Are you outraged yet?