It would appear that our (Canadian) Government is poised to once again abhor evidence based decision making. Here, scientists have looked over the Joint Review Panel Report that is being used to push forward the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. In essence, they conclude (and for full disclosure, I am one of the signatories) that it “has so many systemic errors and omissions, we – the 300 signatories – can only consider it a failure.”
What are these flaws you ask? Well, the core problems have been outlined in a press release (see below for full press release), and are as follows:
1. The JRP failed to consider important impacts, such as the increased greenhouse gas emissions that could result from oils sands development and burning Northern Gateway oil products in Asia
2. The JRP reached conclusions contradicting the government’s own scientific evidence, including risks to large whales and other marine species.
3. The JRP unjustifiably dismissed the uncertain risks posed by diluted bitumen spills at sea as unimportant risks.
4. The JRP relied on an oil spill response plan that is not yet developed
5. The JRP relied on information from the proponent, without external evaluation.
6. The JRP failed to adequately articulate the rationale for its findings.
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I have to say that this continued anti-science behaviour from the Canadian Government is so devastating that I feel like the Harper Government now deserves its own meme: hence the silly meme above that is not only animated, but depicts the seriousness of the situation with an elevated facepalm category- the MEGAFACEPALM. Please share widely. (Note: a high quality animated gif can be found here).
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The full press release (June 3rd):
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
300 Scientists Denounce the Joint Review Panel Report
Their letter asks Prime Minister to reject JRP findings
Vancouver, BC (Tuesday, June 3, 2014) – Scientists from across Canada are asking Prime Minister Harper to reject the findings of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) in the federal decision to approve or reject the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.
In a letter to the Prime Minister signed by 300 scientists from several nations, including fellows of the Royal Society and Order of Canada holders, they say the JRP’s recommendation to approve the oil sands pipeline was based on a “flawed analysis of the risks and benefits to B.C.’s environment and society.”
“The JRP report has so many systemic errors and omissions, we—the 300 signatories—can only consider it a failure,” says UBC associate professor Kai Chan, who led the initiative with SFU assistant professor Anne Salomon and UBC professor Eric Taylor.
“The report does not provide the guidance the federal government needs to make a sound decision for Canadians about the Northern Gateway Project,” Chan says.
The scientists express concerns the Panel omitted important impacts and considered unbalanced, and in some cases, biased evidence that led to a faulty conclusion in its recommendation that Northern Gateway be approved. The JRP assessment, they say:
· Failed to consider important impacts, such as the increased greenhouse gas emissions that could result from oils sands development and burning Northern Gateway oil products in Asia
· Reached conclusions contradicting the government’s own scientific evidence, including risks to large whales and other marine species.
· Unjustifiably dismissed the uncertain risks posed by diluted bitumen spills at sea as unimportant risks.
· Relied on an oil spill response plan that is not yet developed
· Relied on information from the proponent, without external evaluation.
· Failed to adequately articulate the rationale for its findings.
The scientists also point to the Panel’s failure to provide an explanation of how it had reached its conclusions, especially the central one, that the project’s benefits justify its risks and costs.
For More Information, Please Contact:
Kai Chan, Associate Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, UBC: 778-839-9820, email@example.com
Anne Salomon, SFU Assistant Professor, Resource & Environmental Management, SFU
Rick Taylor, Professor, Zoology, UBC: 604-822-9152, firstname.lastname@example.org
By DAVID NG
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HAN SOLO: Well, so far, it seems like it’s a pretty good thing. Me, I’m not too up on the technology, but Chewie is pretty good at that stuff. Right Chewie?
CHEWBACCA: Uuuhhhggg. Rrrrggghhh. Hhhgg-aaa. Rrrrn.
HAN SOLO: Yeah, that’s a good point. Chewie just reminded me that this new system has significantly increased our energy efficiency. This basically means less money spent at the pump, and more money in our pockets.
CHEWBACCA: Rrrrrr! Aaaa-Ghhhuuurr. Uuuuhggg.
HAN SOLO: Right. And lower emissions too. Although I don’t get why that would be such a big deal in deep space. Do greenhouse gases do anything out there anyway?
CHEWBACCA: Uuuuhhh-rrrr. Ghhhgggg. Uuugggg. Ggg. Rrrrr-uuuuaa. RRRR! NNHHHUUUR!
HAN SOLO: Alright, alright. Calm down. I’m not saying it’s not a problem. I know there’s science behind all this stuff. It’s not like you haven’t told me to be environmentally conscious like a hundred times already. Look, I’m sorry buddy. I didn’t mean to sound negative like those Empire bastards.
CHEWBACCA: RRRR! RRRRRRRR!
HAN SOLO: Yeah, I know. That would be pretty funny to watch you pull the arms off a one of those guys. Doing that would be carbon neutral too right?
CHEWBACCA: Gghhnn. Nnnnh.
HAN SOLO: Yeah, sure. But listen Chewie, seriously: How would lower emissions in deep space help? I just don’t get it, you know?
CHEWBACCA: Grrrrgh. Uuurhh. RRRggllhh. Hhuu-hhhuu. Auhhh-ghu-gh. RRRRR!. Ggg-rrr, uurrghh. HHGGU! Uuuuhh. Rrr, ggghhu. Huuhhhg. GGGrrr. Uhh?
HAN SOLO: Oh, O.K.. That makes sense. You say you still want fewer emissions because there’s still a lot of flying involved when the Falcon leaves or returns to a planet, or just when she does her cool maneuvers close to the surface. These things still directly contribute to increasing greenhouse gas amounts within the confines of the planet’s atmosphere. Hence, not helping with the global warming problem.
CHEWBACCA: Ggggrrr. Rrrrh. Uuuhhggr. RRRR! Uhhfuckinggghug.
HAN SOLO: Definitely. And you’re right, Tatooine is already too damn hot.
CHEWBACCA: Rrrrrhhg. RRRGGH! Hhhuurrg. Ggrrgh. Huurg. Grrhhg. Guuuaaauu. AAAURRGG! RRRRGGG!
HAN SOLO: Yeah, O.K. I mean I’m basically pretty happy with the modifications. Really, as long as we can still make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, I really don’t care. Plus, I still get to say stuff like “Punch it Chewie,” right? Chewie, you love that stuff.
The top one, in particular, is brilliant.
By Jon Kuldelka (you can also buy prints of these at the link).
By DAVID NG
The IPCC report1
The STWBTIPCCFARCC2013TPSB report2
The OWCGWIPCCFR report3
The YIACCAYII report4
The OKSILTRIWSHAGTATTSAAEOTSOCC report5
The BTESCCIRINAGTAAIPOF report6
The OKTIA95LTIOFBTB100ITKOATIPITSR report7
The IOWSAACASCBAT report8
The MYCSTW100CITPRBWAKHTKOSTTTO report9
The SIATITRBYKSIW report10
The FFSJRTGROALTTRACNPOI report11
The ABCIDMOLPCOAGWFDOEICFFIIFFATL report12
The SCTINFSC report13
The AAYWWMLBGOTKOSMTIIBOLWLOMMOTOACISFMAOGEOCI report14
The ASTTQIAYOBWWTIPCCIS report15
The BIYTWTFJGALBB report16
The INWTTARSIIFHSLCHUMCPBTLUIPHBSWGTGWA95CTYCAYCCAGTBMTALDWY report17
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1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
2. Specifically, this would be the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis
3. Or we could go with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change For Realz
4. Yes, it’s about climate change, and yes, it’s important.
5. O.K. So it’s like this report is where several hundred academics get together and try to summarize all available evidence on the science of climate change.
6. Basically the evidence says: climate change is real, it’s not a good thing; and also, it’s partly our fault.
7. O.K. Technically, it’s a 95% likelihood that it’s our fault, but that’s because 100% is the kind of assessment that isn’t possible in the scientific realm.
8. In other words: scientists are as certain as scientists can be about this.
9. Maybe you can say things with 100% certainty in the political realm, but we all know how those kinds of statements tend to turn out.
10. Seriously, it’s all there in the report. Because, you know… Science, it WORKS.
11. For fuck’s sake, just read the goddam report! Or at least try to read a credible news piece on it.
12. And by credible, I don’t mean outlets, lobbyists, political commentary or advocacy groups where funding directly or even indirectly comes from folks invested in fossil fuels and the like.
13. Scientific conspiracy? There is no fucking scientific conspiracy.
14. Also, ask yourself: who would most likely be guilty of that kind of spin? Messaging that is influenced by oil lobbyists with lots of marketing money? Or thousands of academics conspiring in secret faculty meetings and organizing grand exchanges of covert information?
15. Anyway, screw this. The question is, are you on board with what the IPCC is saying?
16. Because if yes, then wonderful! The future just got a little bit better…
17. If no? Well then, that’s a real shame. Isn’t it funny how scientific laws can help us make climatology predictions, but they’re less useful in predicting human behavior? Still, we’re going to go with a 95% certainty that your children and your children’s children are going to be more than a little disappointed with you.
(Originally published at the Science Creative Quarterly)
And that’s just for all papers published from November 2012 to December 2013.
To quote: “I have brought my previous study (see here and here) up-to-date by reviewing peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals over the period from Nov. 12, 2012 through December 31, 2013. I found 2,258 articles, written by a total of 9,136 authors. (Download the chart above here.) Only one article, by a single author in the Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, rejected man-made global warming. I discuss that article here.”
By James Powell.
By DAVID NG
Natural disasters figure prominently for both.
In their own ways – doing their part to increase carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
Neither necessarily follows international conventions
I gather, both on the same page with this stem cell business.
When they speak, it’s kind of surreal.
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(Originally published at Seed Magazine, December 2006)
Click to enlarge. Note that Vancouver’s altitude ranges from 0m to 152m (mountainous) – the YVR airport is at about 4m.
From Information is Beautiful.
RESEARCH – DAVID MCCANDLESS
ILLUSTRATION – JOE SWAINSON, LAURA SULLIVAN
SOURCES: IPCC, NASA, REALCLIMATE.ORG, NEWSCIENTIST.COM, POTSDAM INSTITUTE, SEA LEVEL EXPLORER
By DAVID NG
“In stark contrast to its cuddly international image, Canada is the dirty old man of the climate world – missing its Kyoto emissions reduction target by a country mile (by 2007, it was 34% above its target) and showing no signs of reigning in its profligacy.” The Guardian, November 30, 2009
What the hell is going on? That conference was a freaking fiasco! What happened? And how is Mr. Environment Minister going to do to fix it?
Stevie (The PM).
O.K. We have a plan. A couple of things actually. Most of them revolving around science and stuff, since we keep getting hammered on our stance with what the climatologists are telling us (you know, the IPCC reports and such). Anyway, the plan is multifaceted, and we’re still bouncing off ideas (FYI: if you got any Prime Ministery input, just pass it on), but here is what we have so far:
1. To get the scientific community off our back, we’re going to challenge them to perform definitive, but basically impossible, climate science experiments. Doesn’t that sound great? I wrote that myself. And here’s one just off the top of my head, which I’m calling the TRI-EARTH experiment (also, wrote that myself). Here, we’ll ask scientists to create two other planet Earths, and populate them with identical geology, biodiversity and anthropogenic infrastructure, and then do a compare and comparison. Our current Earth could be the test subject, whereas the other two could represent “controls” (ooh actual science lingo). These would be conditions with (a) zero fossil fuel emissions, and (b) intensive fossil fuel emissions. Scientists would then be asked to collect data for 100 years, and then reconvene with their conclusions. Brilliant right? Oh man, our tech guys are gonna love making that website.
2. To get the environmental community off our backs, we’re thinking of asking the HR Departments of all tar sand companies to actively hire members of the biodiversity community. And we’re not talking scientists here, but actual animals – the cuter and the furrier the better! Anyway, the idea is that this would be an excellent way to create tension between all those environmentalists. Imagine the debates! I can hear them already: “You can’t shut down the tar sands! Think of the livelihood of our friends, the [insert name of cute furry mammal]. How will they maintain their way of life?” Basically, with the right amount of nuts, we could get a squirrel or two to say anything. As an added bonus, the irony alone just might get Suzuki’s brain to explode.
3. This one is a biggie! We’re looking into actually creating new scientific laws! Wouldn’t that be great? I mean a good chunk of the data out there is based on rigorous climate modeling, which is powered by scientific laws and mathematical equations (bla bla bla). So we say: why not take matters into our own hands, and create something like a new addition to the Laws of Thermodynamics. I mean, these laws are well known, they come up a lot in climate studies (the first law with its overbearing “energy cannot be created or destroyed” mantra is especially annoying), and as a bonus, they even have too many syllables which we know is always good for added confusion. If we’re smart, we can even make the new law a little “magical” (seriously, maybe something about unicorns – you like unicorns right?). This might make the whole creationism angle a little easier to swallow scientifically (and you know me, I’m always looking for ways to widen our support base).
4. Advertising: and lots of it. Maybe go with either a “Canada is a Climate Change Free Zone” angle (wouldn’t that look great on a t-shirt?); or maybe just a straight up promotion of things to do in a hotter climate. I think the “Hot Canada” idea could sell itself. I’m thinking five words: beach volleyball and umbrella drinks. Hmmm… let me write that down. Could work as a possible slogan.
O.K enough writing… I’m going to send this memo off right now. These are just a few ideas we’re ready to act on. Add on a good old general marketing blitz, and I think we got something that should do the trick. Anyway, just say the word boss and we’ll get on it pronto.
Sounds great. Make it so (I love saying that). Oh and how about this for a slogan, “No more sweater vests!”
“Photographer Mitch Payne, Designer Kyle Bean and Art Director Gemma Fletcher collaborate on a playful still life project which visually represents different forms of renewable energy. Energy extracted from resources which are continually replenished such as Solar,Nuclear and Wind. Each image depicts a glass tank housing various setups acting as ‘energy sources’ which power a lightbulb. The series includes ‘Geothermal’ where coloured gravel is layered up to represent a cross section through earth and ‘Tidal’ where water is seen dramatically splashing like a giant wave within the glass tank.”
Thinking of entering my own art at the upcoming #hotartcard event. Although to be honest, I’m more of a “I only draw/paint because my walls look a bit empty, and I’m actually a scientist, so feel a little funny calling myself an artist” kind of artist.
Even the air and the water obey (the Laws of Thermodynamics). Part 1
(pastels and charcoal)
“One of the known environmental changes that is happening is the rising of the sea level through global warming. It is critical to me that at the time of its making this work reacts with the viewer, the walking viewer, on the top of the polder and that the surface that the viewer stands on is the surface that the work stands on. The work cannot have a plinth. Over time, should the rising of the sea level mean that there has to be a rising of the dike, this means that there should be a progressive burying of the work.”
Recently, I was asked to imagine a set of New Year’s Resolutions that “Science” would aspire towards. This was pretty general and in good fun, as well as potential fodder for a piece at Slate. In the end, Slate only used a small part of my rambling, but I figured this blog is as good a place as any to share the rest of my role playing resolutions. As well, I’ve categorized it into three main sections, and note that some of them are a little silly (albeit potentially AWESOME).
A: Proper science (technical) resolutions
- Some major mind blowing breakthrough(s) in the renewable energy category. Something, basically where the cost per watt just destroys the competing fossil fuel economy.
- DNA Sequencing to hit that magic criteria where costs and speed are met. Basically, something akin to someone getting that Genomics X Prize (http://genomics.xprize.org/). With those kind of capabilities, I think this is where the ideas behind personal genomics can really be put to test (we’re fast approaching it anyway). Note that ideally, this would also mean that the policy side of things can also keep up.
- Somebody works out an efficient, effective, and easy way to isolate, purify, culture, and even possibly reset adult stem cells.
B: In the education, and/or policy arena
- Some kind of decent increase in national funding for science research generally – this works for any number of countries, US, and England (and Canada), in particular. This is especially true in the basic research category which tends to get hit the hardest due to lack of appreciation (by politicians and the general public at large) of how science tends to progress.
- Science expertise in policy making decisions is given much (much!) more clout. This kind of clout is needed so that more (all?) political decisions are made based on rationality, validity and good evidence (climate change policy, I’m looking at you). While we’re at it, such expertise must also be utilized in a much more efficient and quicker fashion, since this advice doesn’t help if it can’t keep up with the science (decisions around molecular genetics/genomics for instance). Basically, science needs to have a much more primary role in the political world.
- Slow but strategic introduction of “Science Philosophy” concepts into school curricula, such that one day, it will have a much more significant presence throughout elementary and high school syllabus (and also diversified in where it turns up: such as in Social Studies as well as the usual science topics). This is because the nuances of things like the scientific method are far too important to be really only covered at the earlier ages where it is presented in an overly simplistic fashion. The epistemology of science much richer than that, and ultimately you want all citizens to comfortable and knowledgable in such things because they provide the best practices for good decision making. (Plus, it doesn’t have to be boring either – check out this piece for instance) In other words, it’s not necessarily about educating people to become scientists, it’s more about teaching everyone the value of “thinking” like a scientist. Put another way, I’d like everyone to smile while looking at this t-shirt, but then on reflection, that same person would ask themselves “How is that claim validated? What is the evidence?”
- I would love for science communication skill sets/options/practices to have a greater presence in the conventional academic science pipeline. In other words, something like if there is a dedicated funding schematic for graduate students to have the option of exploring these practices. Translation of science needs more advocates from those in the trenches, or at least needs more that have some experience in the public communications arena.
- Somebody to develop a “Downton Abbey” type television series, but revolve it around the contrasting relationships between supervising scientists (professors, etc), and the rest of the lab (graduate students, technicians). That show is like crack (I can only assume) to me.
- Where science begins to be recognized formally as a “creative” endeavour. i.e. you go to the art gallery, and there’s a floor or the permanent exhibit looking at how science is, in many ways, a form of art. This isn’t so much from the point of view of “this data looks aesthetically pleasing,” but rather, “how they came up with that hypothesis is just so elegant.” I, and I’m sure others, believe that there’s beauty in that.
C: “Out there, totally unrealistic but this would be awesome category.”
- Somebody invent a time machine already, so that we can finally persuade Climate Change denialists that Climate modelling is actually a very robust and validated science. In other words, with this contraption we can finally go to the future, and say “See, told you…”
- Give the UN enforcement capabilities for international agreements concerning the environment or biodiversity issues. I suggest giving them lightsabers so that everyone knows that this is serious now.
- A super group who makes a “Let’s promote science literacy” music album (can we still call it an album?). I can see Thom Yorke, Peter Gabriel, and Bjork doing this as a triad of voices backed by the rest of the Radiohead band.
Alright, that was fun. Any other suggestions out there?
(Image by Kenwyn Lim)