I just read a great article by the CBC that accurately depicts the state of Canadian science in the public eye.
For anyone who thinks this isn’t the case, talk to any accredited science institution (including of course universities) in the country. I personally know professors and post-docs who have had this happen to them – they publish a paper with important data about a current issue, and yet the public never knows about it. I would not know half the things I do about the environment if I wasn’t currently at a university.
What I almost find amusing too is Environment Minister Peter Kent’s line about how this is a small number of selfish journalists hassling federal scientists:
“There is an element in all of this controversy, second-hand information and criticism from the scientific community abroad responding to a few, a very small number of Canadian journalists who believe they’re the centres of their respective universes and deserve access to our scientists on their timeline and to their deadlines, and it simply doesn’t work that way.”
Um … no?
The whole point of science, especially in terms of environmental research, is that it is constantly changing. I cannot fathom a reason as to why a scientist would postpone an interview about a crucial issue that the public needs to be informed of. Of course scientists are busy, but part of their job is to inform society of what they’ve discovered. Otherwise they’d all remain cooped up in a lab doing experiments, never seeing the light of day (which is sadly often the public’s perception of science).
I give the journalists credit here, because they are trying to get the message out and are being blocked by bureaucrats who don’t have the foggiest idea of what they’re talking about – only that it might screw up their plans.
Oh, and Peter Kent? Not a scientist.
Edit: This is from nearly a year ago, and yet still entirely relevant – Prime Minister, please unmuzzle the scientists