Canadian Scientists Know What to Expect from Trump

Canadian Scientists Know What to Expect from Trump

Postby Oscar » Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:04 am

Canadian Scientists Know What to Expect from Trump

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By Rachel B. Doyle February 9, 2017

The Canadian biologist Ian Stirling has spent much of his life with polar bears. Now seventy-five years old, he joined the Canadian Wildlife Service in the early nineteen-seventies, at a time when no one was doing much in the field beyond tagging the bears and waiting to see where they went. For years, the government paid little attention to how Stirling spent his time; he even did much of his own fund-raising. But, beginning in 2006, when the conservative, business-friendly government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power, Stirling and thirty-six thousand other federal scientists were abruptly forbidden to talk about their work publicly, unless their statements had been vetted and approved by bureaucrats in Ottawa. The policy lasted for nine years, until 2015. In that time, according to Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada’s Green Party, Harper’s “Orwellian” requirement became “a humiliation for scientists, and brought us into international ridicule.”

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If the Canadian experience can teach U.S. scientists anything, it’s that not only their future research but also their past work is at risk. “Watch your libraries,” May said. “Stuff was taken away in dumpsters. Raw data and archives were lost.” There is enough collective anxiety about U.S. climate data being destroyed, altered, or lost that several groups of concerned citizens spent the months before Trump’s Inauguration copying federal data and moving it to other servers. “Within weeks of Harper becoming Canada’s Prime Minster, the climate-change information was scrubbed from the Web site of Environment Canada and researchers were muzzled,” May said. “That took weeks. Trump is a lot faster.”
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