Thursday, October 19, 2017

Don't Let Canada's Chief Scientist Fool You: Today's Publicly Funded Science Absolutely Demands Political Activism

          By Henry Stewart
Chief scientist Nemer. Photo c/o Alex Tétreault.

It's worth noting that Mona Nemer, Canada's new chief scientist, works out of an office suite in the CD Howe Building in Ottawa which "used to house Canadian Space Agency (CSA) personnel," according to staff members.

But she's not immediately going to champion the cause of the scientists at the CSA. That's not trendy or politically astute.

Nemer's main focus as she settles into her new position is the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research program (CCAR), which supports seven independent projects in climate science and is due to run out of funds at the end of the year.

At least that's the story in the October 19th, 2017 National Observer Post. "Top scientist teases 'solution' to climate funding crisis," which quoted Nemer as stating that, "My understanding is that a solution (for funding both the CCAR and one of the projects it supports, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory) is actually in the works, and things are on track and the community will be pleased.”

Not that there's anything wrong with coming to that conclusion, especially if the evidence supports it. But the major impetus to revisit funding for the CCAR, at least according to the article, doesn't come from academics or those curious about the research and data being collected by CCAR.

It instead comes from organizations like Evidence for Democracy, which describes itself and an organization "standing up for science and smart decision-making in Canada."

Their "issue-based campaigns tackle emerging issues affecting science and evidence-based public policy in Canada" and they work with "national and local partners to organize events, raise awareness, and engage the public directly with policy-makers."

Many of their members are even scientists, but they're not performing scientific experiments or political advocacy on behalf of science. Instead they're engaging national and local partners to organize events, raise awareness and engage the public directly with policy makers.

In essence, they're telling the politicians what they feel is important and needs to be addressed.

And again, it's not that there is anything wrong with that. It's just that political advocacy is something the Canadian space community doesn't really know how to do.

If we did, there would be far fewer empty CSA offices for the newer and trendier political appointees to move into.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

1 comment:

  1. sorry to see 'scientist' morphing into spokesperson for faith issues and not using critical thinking to at least suggest intellectual discourse is not dead just floundering.


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