My research looks at phenomena that link closely to climate change impacts. I must actively look for PhD opportunities outside of Canada because of things like this:
The federal funding that supported most university-based weather and climate research for the past decade has almost run out, and there is no sign it will be renewed. The Ottawa-based Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, launched under prime minister Jean Chrétien's Liberal government in 2000, will have given out $118 million in research grants by the time it runs dry at the end of 2011.
There are increasingly concerted research efforts and the money allocated to support them in Europe and Australia. Canada, under this government, is intentionally moving into the realm of unknowledge and we will likely suffer the braindrain that goes with it. For a canary-state already feeling the impacts of climate change on land and people, this is an intolerable thing to contemplate. We should be a centre of excellence.
Like the Census long-form, the loss of climate research is a loss of critical strategic intelligence about things that affect the wellbeing of all Canadians, including their governments.
The long-term threat of climate change and our capacity to adapt are compounded by the Harper government. Climate is a global system. The loss of Canadian research means that the we lose the Canadian contribution to the understanding of how that global climate system behaves. Given that our white north is global climate engine, and that our melting permafrost threatens to release vast volumes of trapped methane (a much more potent greenhouse gas), the world must have Canadian research.
Either we do it, or their scientists will come here to do it. Just watch what happens in foreign capitals when the Conservatives start blocking visas for climate scientists. Just watch what happens when Canada, sitting beside a much weakened US is left to defend its intransigence against an urgent and pissed off global community.