New website/blog: the view from where I live

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Maybe you’ve noticed, it’s been quiet around here for awhile.  Or maybe it’s been so quiet, you didn’t notice.

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The reason:  Recently I launched a new website and blog.  It’s here: http://michaelriordon.com/.

With creative help from Jess Posgate, finally it pulls together into one tidy place a maze of websites and blogs that have built up over the years, representing a range of my interests and work.

As the new site’s subtitle suggests – “the view from where I live” – it will still represent my work, but now it’s spectrum is broader, especially on the blog.  As you’ll see, I hope.

This morning, for example, I put up a post about tomorrow’s crucial referendum in Greece.  The blog is here: http://michaelriordon.com/blog/.

Stop by for a visit.

 

 

Bold Scientists in Kingston, Ontario: November 6

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cropped-bold-scientists-front-cover8.jpgAuthor Michael Riordon in dialogue: Whole food for free range minds.

Thursday November 6, 1 – 2:30 pm. Room D214, Mackintosh Corry Hall, Queen’s University.
Map: http://www.queensu.ca/campusmap/main?mapquery=mackintosh.

Everyone is welcome.  Bring your own mind.

Co-sponsors: Studies in National and International Development (SNID), and the School of Environmental Studies.

“An attempt to guarantee public ignorance”

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“A recent New York Times editorial, referencing the rapid development of the Alberta oil sands, went so far as to describe new communications restrictions on government scientists as ‘an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.’” – from an open letter to the current Canadian government, signed by more than 800 scientists from 32 countries.

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Image: Steve Nease, The Toronto Star

The international roster of scientists called on the Harper government to end “burdensome restrictions on scientific communication and collaboration faced by Canadian government scientists.” More detail on the story here.

The call was made in an open letter drafted by the Cambridge, Mass.-based Union of Concerned Scientists.  UCS represents U.S. scientists, and fosters “rigorous science to build a healthier planet and a safer world.”

The need for this unusual intervention is strongly reinforced in a new report from the Canadian organization Evidence for Democracy.  It  assesses the communication and media policies of 16 Canadian federal government departments.

For more on the fight for open science and democracy, see chapters 9 and 12 in Bold Scientists. Read an excerpt here.

 

“They cannot stop me from talking.”

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Scientists Biased, Talk Too Much: Confidential government memo.

Details here, in Blacklock’s Reporter: minding Ottawa’s business, August 11, 2014.

Tar sands 2Tar sands, Alberta, Canada.  Photo: The Nation.

The primary target of the confidential memo, John Smol, is a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, a widely acclaimed paleolimnologist (fathoming the life stories of lakes), and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change.

Why does the Harper government want to silence John Smol and his co-researchers?  Because they know too much.  The current regime in Ottawa is an aggressive booster of the enormously destructive tar sands colossus, and is determined to keep Canadians strictly on message: tar sands = good for Canada, with minimal harm.  Period.  Trouble is, their message keeps getting shredded by the findings of honest science.

Why won’t John Smol shut up?  He knows too much:

“The huge problem is that many environmental problems are long scale.  They can take years, decades to show up – or longer, sometimes I work in centuries, even millennia.  But politicians think in terms of four years, at best.  Look at the tar sands – go ahead, pump it out as fast as you can, we’ll be out of here in four years, what do we care?  Industry is even worse, they think in quarters, 90-day intervals.  Costs for the future are horrendous, but they’re not in this fiscal cycle.  When things go extinct, they’re extinct forever.  You destroy a river system, it’s gone. Destroy a fish population, it’s gone.  How do you gauge what that’s worth?”

Delve into John Smol’s research, paleolimnology, and why he speaks out, in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science.  Available September 4, 2014, in print and e-book from Between the Lines.

The future of science in Canada: your input is requested

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The federal government is asking Canadians to share our thoughts on how to shape the future of science policy in this country. Death of Evidence

Photo: pencanada.ca

Frankly, given the current regime’s dismal record on public science, I doubt they want to know what we think unless it agrees with their corporate agenda, but why not at least give it a try?  After all, it’s still a free country.  In which, by the way, silence is taken for consent.

The stakes are enormous, really a matter of life and death.  Think of the tar-sands, climate chaos, fracking, GMOs….

Evidence for Democracy offers thoughtful recommendations on how to restore public-interest science and evidence-based policy development in Canada.  They request our input:

This is a chance to add your voice to the new science and technology strategy.

The existing strategy only focuses on science and innovation related to business. It completely ignores all the other science that is necessary for the long-term well-being and prosperity of Canadians.  Federal government science capacity is crucial for the support of evidence-informed public policy.

The current strategy is also entirely silent about federal support for basic research.  Amazingly, supporting basic research is not identified as a priority for Canadian science.  Yet such research lies at the heart of all innovation.  No basic research, no innovation: it’s that simple.

We’ve written a draft response, and created a tool on our website for you to submit a response in seconds.

Comments must be submitted by February 7th!  Please add your voice today, and pass this message on.