Environment budget slashed while PM Harper’s office places a gag order on government scientists. (And a $60 billion order for military equipment)
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Nov 9, 2011 (IPS)
Canada’s Stephen Harper government is spending more than 60 billion dollars on new military jets and warships while slashing more than 200 million dollars in funding for research and monitoring of the environment.
Amongst the programmes now crippled is Canada’s internationally renowned ozone monitoring network, which was instrumental in the discovery of the first-ever ozone hole over Canada last spring. Loss of ozone has been previously linked to increases in skin cancer.
“The proposed cuts go so far the network won’t be able to do serious science,” said Thomas Duck, an atmospheric scientist at Halifax’s Dalhousie University.
Canada was the pioneer in ozone monitoring, developing the first accurate ozone measuring tool that led to the discovery that the world’s ozone layer was dangerously thinning in the 1970s, which in turn led to the successful Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances.
Canada has about one-third of the ozone monitoring stations in the Arctic region. It also hosts the world archive of ozone data, which is heavily relied on by scientists around the world.
“There’s only one guy running the entire archive, and he’s received a lay-off notice letter,” Duck told IPS.
Ozone monitoring and research is part of Environment Canada, the government department charged with protecting the environment, conservation and providing weather and meteorological information.
“Canada can’t afford to pay scientists but we can line the pockets of big oil?
That is totally backwards.”