Of all the ecological things that we ponder in our household, Gord is the one who thinks about water-related issues the most. He noticed that one of Canada's (and maybe the world's) foremost experts on water ecology, Dr. David Schindler, was speaking at a lunchtime town hall meeting at CBC Edmonton's interactive space. So we both headed down there at lunch today, me walking from work and he half-driving, half-taking public transit to listen.
Accompanying Dr. Schindler was Dr. Steve McLean, Canadian astronaut. The purpose of the meeting was to talk about Edmonton author Thomas Wharton's award winning book, Icefields. The book was written in 1995, in a time when the prospect of glaciers disappearing wasn't thought possible.
But, it has turned out to be all too possible. Dr. McLean spoke about how seeing the Earth from space made him feel more connected to it than before, because he could see how fragile and amazing it is. Dr. Schindler spoke about how frustrating it is to have scientists' efforts at measuring climate change and other scientific phenomena undermined by decades of government funding cuts. Both of these speakers pointed out how essential it is that we measure things like oxygen emitted from the Earth's atmosphere into space and the flow rates of our rivers before they are seriously affected by climate change. Otherwise we have no baseline of information from which to measure what is being affected and how.
At this point I turned to Gord and said that this lack of data is what climate change deniers would want. That way, there is no solid evidence of how things used to be, which would mean there can be no solid evidence that things are actually changing. This lets the deniers say that the science and the scientists are "imprecise," and gives them more ammunition to delay taking any restorative action.
We need to demand that our governments restore funding to those agencies that monitor the weather, the rivers, the wilderness, the glaciers. We need this information so we can take pro-active steps to mitigate against the worst effects of climate change.
Picture courtesy CBC Edmonton flickr site
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