Last spring, I wrote about the decline of science in Canada, and the frustration in the science community. That spurred the Death of Evidence rally on Parliament Hill, where scientists and concerned citizens alike gathered to protest the current situation of science in our country. The rally garnered international attention, but since then the situation has not improved.
That’s why on Monday there will be rallies across the country, urging Canadians and our government to Stand Up for Science(!). I’ll be in my lab coat on the Hill, and I’d love it if you joined me. (Practice your chanting: What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review!) It doesn’t matter if you think you are a scientist or not, these issues affect all Canadians. We need evidence based decision making, not the opposite.
And now, because thoughts of science and desserts often dance around my head simultaneously, a pavlova.
In May I wrote about how Stephen Harper was killing environmental science with Bill C-38. Since then, the bill passed easily and more and more cuts continue to be made to research and environmental programs in Canada. Since winning a majority, the Conservative party seems to have been systematically cutting down environmental policies and funding to major centres of scientific advancement– like shutting down the Experimental Lakes Area which is (was) known throughout the world as a leader in freshwater research. These budget cuts aren’t happening to just “fight an economic deficit”, Harper is muzzling federal scientists and trying to get rid of any evidence that might not support his political ideologies.
Scientists aren’t usually the big-protest-type, but on Tuesday hundreds of people marched to Parliament Hill to rally against these cuts and mourn the death of evidence. This has captured international attention which will hopefully put more pressure on the government as their shortsighted cuts to the environment come into the spotlight.
Photo by Jean Levac, Ottawa Citizen
Regardless of political beliefs, I think that everyone should want to know that important decisions being made by our government are being made based on solid facts and research. We need evidence-based decisions, not decision-based evidence. These cuts and blows to science, research, and the communication of science in Canada shouldn’t just be worrisome to professional scientists, or “tree huggers”, or activists — these affect all Canadians and people around the world. Canada used to be considered a world leader in this field, and it’s sad to see where our country is headed.
“Scale of the Universe 2” by Michael and Cary Huang will blow your mind. With their interactive model you can scroll through the scale starting at human size all the way to things that are yottameters or yoctometers in diameter (that’s 1024 and 10-24 meters respectively; i.e. really, really big and really, really small). With some spacey music accompanying the animation it’s hard not to get caught up in the wonder of the universe. I had my nerdy moment for the day marvelling at it all; even the largest things you could imagine are simply sums of the smallest things. The connections are never ending. Just don’t think about it too hard, it can get kind of overwhelming!
So…does it make you feel really big or really small?