Why Science is Important in Democracies

Canada is in the midst of an election, and it’s a close one. The anti-science incumbents have spent a lot of effort muzzling scientists in Canada as they pursue their environment-destroying goals. Why does this matter?

In a democracy it is necessary to have educated debates about issues instead of baseless opinons and flat-out hearsay. Over at the Tyee they took a look at the important role science plays in democratic discourse.

Government scientists occupy a special place in our democracy. They are the only scientists paid specifically to protect the public interest. They are also the only scientists whose task is to inform government on scientific matters, to the exclusion of any competing interests. Silencing government scientists ultimately damages the common good.

My colleague Jeff Hutchings once wrote: “Let’s be clear. When you inhibit the communication of science, you inhibit science. The legitimacy of scientific findings depends crucially on unfettered engagement, review, and discussion among interested individuals, including members of the public.”

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Get Informed with Pollenize Canada


Pollenize for iOS and Android can help you navigate the upcoming Canadian election. I’ve checked out the app and it’s a really great way to see where the parties stand on popular issues. I recommend Pollenize if you’re looking for an easy way to understand the election.

Pollenize is free so they can reach as many potential voters as possible. Let’s hope that Pollenize gets into the hands of every Canadian. An informed populace may help Canada avoid another Harper-led recision and ongoing destruction of the environment and Canada’s overall wellbeing.

Nonpartisan and tailored to young voters, Pollenize breaks down each of the main parties’ platforms point-by-point to give users all the information they need to make an informed decision on election day. This modern approach to politics proved especially successful during the 2014 Toronto mayoral election, where our coverage contributed to a record voter turnout of 60 percent, with more than 980,000 Torontonians casting ballots.
“Young people want to make a difference in their country’s political picture, but it’s confusing and difficult to get the information necessary to make an informed decision at the polls,” says Pollenize co-founder Trevor Blades. “Pollenize makes it easy to understand what each party stands for and helps people cast their vote with confidence.”
A recent study by the Broadbent Institute found that one of the main reason Canadians under age 35 don’t vote is because they don’t know enough about politics. Pollenize aims to fill the gap by giving individuals the necessary tools to become educated on all active political agendas without doing the overwhelming research.

Check out Pollenize.

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How To Stop An Oil And Gas Pipeline: The Unist’ot’en Camp Resistance

The Unist’ot’en people have been fighting the deplorable people at TransCanada, Enbridge, and other companies who are trying to increase their capability to destroy the environment. The Unist’ot’en camp began in 2010 and has grown since to blockade the land from corporate tools trying to get pipelines through the area.

Of course, the Canadian (and BC) government supports the corporations but hopefully recent actions in the courts will force the government to back down. In the meantime, you can read about the Unist’ot’en camp.

Our nine-day visit supports the Unist’ot’en Camp practically as well as politically. On our second night in camp, while my fellow visitors shovel snow and build a counter for the kitchen, I go to the frigid Wedzin Kwah to collect water. As I lug heavy plastic jugs full of ice-cold water up the snowy hill to the main cabin, the opportunity feels special, a rarity for a suburban kid like me. I realize I’ve never lived near a stream clear enough to drink from. This strikes me as completely nuts, considering I’ve grown up entirely in the sopping-wet Pacific Northwest.

Bringing water up from the river by hand leads everyone to use water thoughtfully. There are 12 people at the camp, and during my stay, all of our daily cooking, cleaning, and drinking is accomplished with about 40 gallons — a quantity that a showerhead with the EPA’s WaterSense label would run through in 20 minutes.

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Canada Can be Fossil Fuel Free

Canada has an international reputation as being a dullard when it comes to the environment. That’s not shocking given that the present “conservative” government has sabotaged international climate meetings, has climate change deniers as leaders, and openly supports the world-destroying tar sands.

All of this can change though.

A group of over 60 scientists in the country have proven that Canada can be powered by 100% renewable, sustainable, energy by the year 2035!

The authors of the report want to place a realistic plan on the table for political and public discussion. And they want this plan discussed before the next election and before the next climate summit in Paris later this fall.

These transitional steps have the potential, the report says, to create a low carbon economy by 2035, and reducing carbon emissions by 21-28 per cent below 2005 levels, just ten years from now.

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Read the full report here.

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Alternatives Journal Spells Out Canada’s Map to Sustainability

Canada has a horrible international reputation when it comes to the environment. The federal government even has climate change deniers and actively supports the shameful tar sands. At Alternatives Journal they have worked with some of the smartest people in Canada to show Canadians there’s no reason to continue down the self-destructive path we are on.

Within the issue they look at many aspects of Canadian life from cities to mining.

THIS IS THE most important issue that A\J has ever published. It will land in the hands and mailboxes of more Canadians than any issue in A\J’s 44-year existence. What’s so important? We as a nation are on the cusp of embracing and implementing the sustainability that Gro Harlem Brundtland envisioned almost 30 years ago in her pivotal book, Our Common Future.

To help map our sustainable future, A\J has teamed with a group of Canadian scholars called Sustainable Canada Dialogues/Dialogues pour un Canada vert (SCD). Every scholar in this 60-person-plus group puts sustainability central to his or her area of research, whether it is species diversity, resource extraction or how we manage the land that feeds us. All SCD participants have identified what is needed for their specialized science or social science field to become more sustainable – and thus for Canada to become more sustainable. These pages contain articles by more than 20 of those scholars

Check out their map to sustainability issue.

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