Saturday, March 30, 2013

We Are Not Alone

Those of us who write in the progressive blogosphere, I suspect, often have a 'dark night of the soul,' fearing that we are only preaching to the converted in our posts, and that those who share our bent for criticizing the status quo are in a decided minority. That is why I always find it heartening when I see indications of a large and varied repository of citizens who pine for a better government, a better country, and a better world.

One of the best sources of such affirming evidence is the letters-to-the-editor page of major daily newspapers. Today I offer a reproduction of missives from the Toronto Star highly critical of the ongoing assault by the Harper regime on science and the environment. There are several excellent letters, a direct response to a recent article by Professor Stephen Bede Scharper entitled Closure of Experimental Lakes Area part of assault on science.

You can access all of the letters here. A few I reproduce below:

Professor Stephen Bede Scharper highlights, as have many other scientists, the seemingly incomprehensible approach of the Harper government to climate change and to scientific investigations of the consequences of industrial-induced degradation of the environment.

Regarding the inexplicable, imminent closing of the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) research facility, one might ask where does Peter Kent, the Minister of Pollution Apologetics, akak the Minister of the Environment,stand on this issue?

Joe Oliver, the Minister of Natural Resources, is the front man for both the down-playing of environmental consequences of tar sands development and its promotion. One wonders if the environment ministry portfolio should be shut down completely. At least then we would not be under the illusion that the environment is given anything but perfunctory consideration in resource development.

If Prime Minister Stephen Harper actually does believe in climate change, it certainly does not show. His government’s treatment of the environment does not reflect mere benign neglect, nor even mild resentment for the scientists, engineers and technologists studying environmental degradation and presenting (inconvenient) facts.

No. An explanation for his policies is that he genuinely strongly dislikes this research and the people undertaking it.

Much more harm can be inflicted on environmental research by this government in the coming two years. But from an environmental perspective, the prospect of yet another Harper government is genuinely (even pant-fillingly) scary.

Paul Gudjurgis, Brampton

Scharper argues that shutting down research at Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area would be devastating to our collective health, and, moreover, that “the vitality of our waters and our democracy are at stake.”

Of course he’s right, and if the federal Conservative government didn’t recognize our water’s great value, it wouldn’t be stifling research.

Shea Hoffmitz, Hamilton

I’m just an ordinary Canadian, but I am so outraged at the Harper government’s multi-pronged attack on science, I started a petition on to protest. Tell all your friends.

I also emailed the Prime Minister’s Office to politely inquire how many signatures would be required on a petition to persuade the government to save the ELA by diverting some funds from their Economic Action Plan propaganda campaign.

Closing the Experimental Lakes Area is such an incredibly bad idea that there may be something else behind it. Isn’t anybody out there following the money? What minerals are buried under those pristine lakes, and what mining companies want them? What tour operators want to lift the restrictions on bringing high-paying anglers up from the U.S.?

If it turns out that some campaign contributor benfits from the closure of the ELA, criminal charges might be in warranted.

Heather O’Meara, Toronto

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