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Science versus Photo Ops

I was watching the cbc news this morning. I find it very sad to witness the decline of that once proud public broadcaster. The cbc used to provide some fine investigative journalism. It’s one story in particular that caught my eye today however, that speaks to the disconnect between government and the media and we, the governed.

Steven Harper appeared for a press conference in Hamilton, in front of a backdrop that had the word science printed several times behind him (all in blue text, to inform you, the viewer, that science is really a conservative party invention). The CBC was not interested in airing his announcement, they brought us live to the question segment with reporters. Intitially, I assumed they had a reporter there with a pointed question for the Prime Minister. I was hoping for “Why does the PMO’s office continually muzzle their own scientists, as was the case at the Cohen Commission in BC, where their own biologist was barred from granting interviews after publishing a controversial report in a highly respected magazine?” Of course I was disappointed, the media asked him about the newest “NDP Scandal”. A couple of lame questions later, I came to the conclusion that we were shown the photo op as a propaganda tool, proof (like we need it!) that our ProMedia has been silenced completely now.

They did not ask him why he chooses to ignore his own research tool, StatsCan, when they report that the crime rate is actually down significantly in a long term trend, instead choosing to forge ahead with his hugely expensive omnibus crime bill. Again, ignoring his own scientists over ideology.

There are so many questions that need to be asked. Questions that are asked and investigated by the blogging community every day, which are then shared, linked and discussed in these online forums. But they don’t reach those who do not seek. Let’s face it, we are pretty much preaching to the choir here, for the most part. Once in a while though, someone new comes around to the truth and that’s why what we do is still very important.

Damien Gillis shared this article on facebook this morning, written by Dr. Gordon F. Hartman, a retired DFO manager, entitled, “Is Scientific Inquiry Incompatible with Government Information Control?”

The author poses the question the Pro Media should be all over…

This title is quoted from a publication by Jeffry Hutchings, Carl Walters and Richard Haedrich, back in May of 1987. Their paper dealt with government control of science information in regard to the cod fish crisis in the Atlantic Ocean, and the Kemano Completion issue in B.C. Now, almost 25 years later, their title question is still appropriate when we consider the control of public communication by Dr. Kristina Miller, a DFO scientist at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. The control is in regard to her public discussion of her (and co-author’s) highly technical paper on genomic signature and mortality of migrating Sockeye salmon (Science, pages 214-217, Vol. 331, 14 January, 2011). The muzzling of this scientist originates primarily in the office of the Prime Minister of Canada, far more than in the DFO bureaucracy.

Yesterday morning, just after 8 am pst, the cbc reported a radiation spike at the Fukishima Tepco plant that spiked off the recordable scale, outside the plant. The story played once and never even made the scroll. I visited their website, along with the globe and mail, the province and the sun, the story was nowhere to be found. I found it on AJE finally. People in BC are very concerned about radioactive fallout here. There have been reports of a spike in stillbirths in the Northwestern US. Sales have skyrocketed at local healthfood stores for products containing iodine, tablets or kelp. Concerned citizens are travelling the Province with geiger counters and posting on Youtube. (Just search for Connectingthedots) There is an article in the Terrace Daily Frontpage (an online free press, in the best tradition), posted July 31, 2011 by Merv Ritchie, the editor, which addresses the frustration that British Columbians are feeling about the lack of oversight and information coming from our Regulating Agencies about this crisis. Where is Health Canada, Environment Canada and Agriculture Canada on this issue? The Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Perry Kendall? Here is another citizen watchdog, from Lumby, BC.

Update August 4th . Environment Canada is eliminating 700 positions in the environmental scientific community. CBC news. I can’t find the story on their website. Unbelievable! The positions are seen by Harper as surplus! At a time when the weather is turning extreme across all climates. When mining and energy companies are proposing outrageous projects to enrich themselves while bankrupting our children and the environment. When Norwiegan companies are freely poisoning our wild fish stocks, with the blessing of the Minister of Fisheries. When the BC Government chooses to gut it’s own environment ministry, citing cost savings by relying on the Federal Government to regulate industry. Now the Feds want to download environmental “science” onto the province. So who, exactly, is going to be regulating activities like this , revealed last week by Laila Yuile (be sure to read the comments for further links).

Clearly, our Professional media cannot be trusted to inform us and we must continue to rely on eachother for our information, as noted by Alison at Creekside . So, shine on, my internet friends, shine on!

1 comment to Science versus Photo Ops

  • Kim

    Also, here’s a good article from the straight…
    http://www.straight.com/article-415211/vancouver/fukushima-brings-big-radiation-spikes-bc?page=0,0