It was in late October of 2014 that scientists around the world asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end restriction on scientific communication and collaboration faced by Canadian scientists.
The decline in freedoms and funding for our scientists affected basic research, research related to the environment, and even research related to health. A great concern at that time was the cuts to the collection of Canadian air pollution and climate monitoring data.
There is a new government in Canada...one that has placed environmental issues to the forefront. However, now it is the research and data collected by scientists in our neighbour to the south that may be at risk. In fact, a report by scientists from 13 federal agencies was given to the New York Times and put before the American public on Aug.7. The reason for this “leak” was that scientists were afraid Donald Trump would dismiss the Climate Report. In reality...the report had already been made available to the public in January through a nonprofit Internet Archive but received very little attention until it was given to The New York Times.
It seems that Trump and his cabinet have been saying the human contribution to climate change is questionable...and that predictions of the effects of mankind on the environment is limited. In answer to Trump, and others who are reluctant to accept the fact of global warming the authors of this new report have noted that “thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate changes on land and in the air.” They further indicate that “Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially the emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change.”
Donald Trump wants to put coal miners back to work, even though the top emitters of carbon dioxide are the coal-burning manufacturing plants. If anyone wonders where Trump stands in regard to climate change...this past June the U.S. President indicated his wish to withdraw from the Paris accord, even though 200 nations agreed to limit or cut fossil fuel emissions . His Secretary of State, as well as his daughter and son-in-law disagree and other world leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris agreement.
What would be the reason for people like Stephen Harper or Donald Trump to hold a different viewpoint of the condition of the environment...especially when scientists have come out with hard evidence regarding climate change? One has to wonder if there is a bit of profit involved?
Harper certainly appeared to be passionate about the oil patch. It is interesting to note that Harper was employed in the oil industry prior to entering politics. It is also interesting to note that Donald Trump has invested in Energy Transfer Partners and In Phillips 66. Both companies are involved in the Dakota Access oil pipeline. In addition, the chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners donated more than $100,000 dollars to Trump's campaign.
Those kind of connections might be why these two men appear to have distinctly different concepts of the health of our environment.
Shirley Hallee’s column appears bi-weekly in the Amherst News