How the Harper Government Knows Everything About Climate Change

In a move that is classic for the Harper government, funding for climate research has been slashed.

Last year

Forty per cent of this year’s budget for climate change programs has been slashed from the departments of Natural Resources and Environment, CBC News has learned.
The cuts include the much-advertised One Tonne Challenge, 40 public information offices across the country and several scientific and research programs on climate change.

In fact, the Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network has been shut down.

The Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network (C-CIARN) was established by Natural Resources Canada in 2001 with the mandate of promoting and encouraging research on climate change impacts and adaptation, as well as promoting interaction between researchers and stakeholders.
C-CIARN successfully met the mandate that it was given when it was created in 2001, and on June 30, 2007, the network closed.
The Harper government has claimed that the C-CIARN had met its mandate. But, there was also a question of funding.

The foundation has received $110 million in federal grants since 2000 and will continue to finance research projects until 2010, while seeking additional government money.
But a spokesman for Environment Minister John Baird last week questioned whether they were managing their funding properly.
“The question one has to ask is, if CFCAS has spent the $110 million it received from the government already, why have they run out of money three years before the end of their allocation?” wrote Garry Keller, Baird’s director of communications, in an e-mail to CanWest News Service.

…Gordon McBean, a climate scientist who is the volunteer chairman of the foundation, said the organization still has money, but that it could shut down in a few years if it doesn’t get more funding for new projects.
>”I’m quite concerned because they never ask us,” said McBean. “They have never allowed us to give them a briefing on what we do … They don’t acknowledge our requests.”

Scientist are surprised at the rate of climate change. It is occurring (faster than predicted)[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5303574.stm}. Given that the scientists are surprised, I am not sure how the Harper government can claim that the C-CIARN has fulfilled its mandate of climate research. The C-CIARN had research that was used for the IPPC(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Cange) report. This was the same report that for which the IPCC was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore.

This is the real reason for clamping down on climate research. It has gotten public attention. Public attention means that the Harper government will have to undergo public scrutiny on its lack of any concrete plan to address climate change. The funding cuts come at a time that the Harper government has made election winning, $60 billion dollars worth in corporate and personal tax cuts. Harper has once again taken his direction from George Bush. This is an echo of the Conservatives’ Afghanistan policy, where muzzling the press is the best response

Without adequate research, we are unable to determine what is actually happening with the climate. As the news gets ever more dire and the evidence more conclusive, government will have to set policies to meet the crisis. But, the Harper government would rather take the route of not knowing. Not knowing means not doing – business and pollution as usual. It is not as if resource are tight, after a $60 billion dollar tax break, how tight could they be ?

I thought that any reasonable government would have to acknowledge the problems and challenges we have to face. It is not as if the research is tenuous, although even at this late stage, debate is rife by a minority of oil company scientists. What I did not count on was the incredible power of cognitive dissonance. In spite of increasing evidence that the climate is in serious trouble, the Harper government takes the route of ignorance. Not knowing is better that actually making the hard decisions to change.

Our “leaders” are unable to change the direction of our society. Leadership has to come from the people. Without this internal leadership we will end up like Easter Island. Decimated on a deserted Island with no trees and a lot of large stone statues that stare back with the folly of its creators.

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