Federal Scientists Don’t Feel They Can Speak Out, Even If Public Health and Safety at Risk
Publish Date: 21-OCT-2013 10:58 AM
The results of the first extensive survey on the actual scale and impact of muzzling and political interference among federal government scientists are in, and they are even more damning of the Harper government – and more worrying for science and the public interest – than at first feared.
Between June 5 and 19, 2013, invitations to participate in an online survey on science and the federal public service (conducted by Environics) were sent to 15,398 federal scientists who are PIPSC members, of which 4,069 participated. The results of the survey, outlined in a report published today titled The Big Chill: Silencing Public Interest Science, A Survey, are considered accurate + or - 1.6%, 19 times out of 20.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s environment minister is casting doubt about scientific observations of melting summer sea ice in Canada’s north. In a short televised interview on CTV’s daily political show, Power Play, Leona Aglukkaq suggested that scientific observations were not as important as the Harper government’s priorities in its new role as chair of a group of Arctic nations. When asked whether the ice was melting in the Arctic, considered by climate scientists to be part of the evidence of global warming, Aglukkaq said there may or may not be changes underway.
It's as clear and chilling a statement of intent as you're likely to read. Scientists should be "the voice of reason, rather than dissent, in the public arena". Professor Ian Boyd, chief scientific adviser at the UK's Department for Environment. Boyd's doctrine is a neat distillation of government policy in Britain, Canada and Australia. These governments have suppressed or misrepresented inconvenient findings on climate change, pollution, pesticides, fisheries and wildlife. They have shut down programmes that produce unwelcome findings and sought to muzzle scientists. This is a modern version of Soviet Lysenkoism: crushing academic dissent on behalf of bad science and corporate power.