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David Suzuki on right wing media’s War on Science

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Posted November 2, 2013 by Dr. David Suzuki in Climate Change
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David Suzuki on right wing media's War on Science

Sun Media’s Ezra Levant attacks David Suzuki on his Fox News-style show, The Source

From government scientists to First Nations citizens and environmentalists, pretty much everyone working to protect the air, water, land and diversity of plants and animals that keep us alive and healthy has felt the sting of attacks from sources in government, media and beyond. Much of the media spin is particularly absurd, relying on ad hominem attacks (focusing on perceived character flaws to deflect attention from or invalidate arguments) that paint people who care about the world as greedy conspirators bent on personal enrichment or even world domination! It would be laughable if so many people didn’t take it seriously.

War on Science

Government tactics have been more insidious, often designed to silence anyone who could stand in the way of massive resource extraction and export policies. Politicians in the U.K., Australia, the U.S., Canada and elsewhere have created a false dichotomy between the environment and the economy in efforts to downplay the seriousness of issues like climate change and the need to address them. The arguments are wrong on so many levels.

Many scientists have been told to alter or exclude information from government documents for non-scientific reasons and prevented from speaking to the public or media about their work.

‘The Economy’ is a human invention

First, the economy is a human invention, a tool that can be changed when it no longer suits our needs. The environment is the very air, water, land and diversity of plant and animal life we cannot live without. Why not work to build a healthy, prosperous economy that protects those things?

Volumes of research also conclude ignoring climate change will be far more costly than addressing it. The massive bills for cleaning up after events related to extreme weather, such as flooding, are just a start. Climate change is also affecting water supplies and the world’s ability to grow food, and is contributing to a growing number of refugees. According to the World Health Organization, close to 150 million people are already dying every year from causes related to global warming – and that doesn’t include death and illness related to pollution from burning fossil fuels.

Muzzling scientists

Here in Canada, the rush to exploit fossil fuels and get them to market as quickly as possible has sparked a concerted effort to muzzle anyone who would stand in the way, including the government’s own scientists. A recent survey by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada found many have been told to alter or exclude information from government documents for non-scientific reasons and prevented from speaking to the public or media about their work. The survey also revealed cases where political interference actually compromised the health and safety of Canadians and the environment.

Canada blowing emissions targets

Meanwhile, a recent Environment Canada report says Canada is failing to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reductions targets under the Copenhagen Accord. With the federal and some provincial governments relying on oil sands and gas fracking – mostly for export – as the cornerstones of both economic and energy policy, the situation is likely to get worse.

Right wing media bullies

The campaign to promote fossil fuels over clean energy has also been taken up by others. In several cases, it has devolved to the level of schoolyard taunts and bullying – in government, but even more so in certain mainstream media. Some outlets have stooped to ignoring ideas and rational argument in favour of lies, innuendo, exaggeration and personal attacks.

Ironically, one source is a media personality with government ties who has demonstrated a pattern of using bogus arguments and faulty reasoning, leading to a string of libel charges and convictions, censure over violations of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ethics code and complaints about racist statements.

It’s sad to see so much of our media and governance in such a sorry state that we can’t even expect rational discussion of critical issues such as climate change and energy policy. And there is room for debate – not over the existence of climate change or its causes; the science is clear that it is real and that we are a major contributor, mainly through burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.

But there’s room for discussion about ways to address it. And address it we must. We won’t get there, though, if we hinder scientists from conducting their research and speaking freely about it, and if we allow the discussion to be hijacked with petty name-calling and absurd allegations.

With contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

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About the Author

Dr. David Suzuki

David Suzuki, Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He is renowned for his radio and television programs that explain the complexities of the natural sciences in a compelling, easily understood way.

4 Comments


  1.  
    Mooney

    A few weeks ago Mr. Suzuki was denying the danger and writing it was ok to eat west coast seafood.. contrary to people like Helen Caldicott. Now Mr. Suzuki appears to be blowing the other way.
    Like a melting starfish.

    http://enenews.com/top-scientist-fukushima-is-the-most-terrifying-situation-i-can-imagine-ive-seen-a-paper-which-says-its-bye-bye-japan-and-to-evacuate-n-americas-west-coast-if-unit-4-goes-after-q

    As far as global warming goes, I’m outdoors.. a lot. And I can’t see how anyone with two good eyes, over the age of 40, can deny that our weather is being manipulated.

    Yet according to his recent writing, Mr. Suzuki is (to use his terms) just such a denier. And he continues to refer to, what I believe is large scale weather manipulation.. as to be global warming and… he alleges, that it’s a scientific fact.

    And then there’s that carbon tax…based on all this.. so called scientific fact which can’t be truly scientific.. if it does not factor in all those global military weather operations..




  2.  

    Peak-Oil is a threat to our economic future, because our industrial civilization depends on cheap fossil fuels for continued economic growth. It’s either extract as fast as you can, or see the end of economic growth. The Oil and Gas industry and supportive politicians benefit from expanding this sector, but all the signs point to the sacrifice of the rest of the economy to fuel the fossil fuel boom, because of where we are on the production curve. As we reach diminishing returns in fossil fuel extraction – which is what fracking, and the tar sands really mean – everything else: transportation, agriculture, etc. becomes less affordable.

    It’s also possible that we could get some economic growth from investing heavily in renewables. My concern here is that as oil production fails to keep up with growing global demand, that there will be 70’s style stagflation or global financial collapse. This will stop the production of renewables as well, because all industrial processes depend on fossil fuels.

    This argues for the ramping up of renewable energy production right now, and the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels. But that’s a big change that’s not in the interest of the fossil fuel companies or petro-governments like Alberta’s and Canada.

    In the long run we will lose our clean air, water, and healthy eco-systems to extend the era of fossil fuels for maybe another twenty years at most. But, unfortunately, in the short run, it makes perfect sense to suppress or eliminate scientific knowledge because it takes away the electorate’s ability to make informed choices.




  3.  
    Josh

    “If Oliver’s belief in climate science is waning, however, the minister suggested that Hansen was also to blame. “Crying wolf all the time does not advance serious debate,” he said.”

    Ahahaha! Wow, blame the scientists for your disbelief in climate change? I’d be surprised if there’s some grand social issue that Oliver DOESN’T blame environmentalists (and FIrst Nations) for.

    Further proof of the Canadian government’s current state of cronyism. Keeping people around just because they’re on your side. This is definitely not what democracy ought to look like.




  4.  
    Susan P.

    I am so grateful to have the inspiration of Dr.Suzuki !! I deeply respect and Honor his efforts to educate and inspire us all to LOVE and care for this Home we share with so many other species, whom also have an unequivocal right to be here !! Ezra Levant, you are an insufferable fool!! you and your kind are blight on this planet and a disease on the whole Human species !





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