Science isn't sexy. 'God particles' aside, it doesn't often generate headlines; scientists can toil for years on projects that won't yield immediate results. But the work they do is crucial.
Science lets us know what's happening in our world. But increasingly, our federal government isn't interested in what scientists have to tell us.
Last week, scientists who usually eschew public debate held a mock funeral on Parliament Hill to protest what they called the "death of evidence." They were lamenting federal cuts to programs including those at Environment Canada and Fisheries Canada and changes in the omnibus Bill C-38 that weaken environmental assessment.
Federal cuts have ended funding to an internationally renowned Arctic atmospheric research lab and a research facility that studies long-term effects of oil sands development on freshwater systems; political decisions have gutted the integrity of Statistics Canada's information. Put together, the changes are deeply concerning.
Where the facts don't support the government's ideology, it has decided those facts aren't needed. Sadly, we live in a world where opinion is king and the factual basis of pronouncements often goes unchallenged. But to make important national policy decisions based on little more than hunches and prejudice is folly.
To make good decisions, we need an informed public and informed political leaders. Our lack of attention to science - and reality - probably won't show up in the next election cycle, but a generation from now, we'll be reaping the rewards of our ignorance.