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article imageCanada: Weather forecasters banned from discussing climate change

By Nora Meszaros     May 30, 2014 in Environment
Reports from earlier this week have confirmed that Canadian meteorologists are forbidden from publicly discussing climate change, on the basis that the mere study of meteorology does not qualify an individual to make predictions past a few months.
Science news site IFL Science reported this week that all weather forecasters employed by the Canadian Meteorological Service have been banned from discussing long-term climate change patterns and predictions.
Environment Canada spokesperson Mark Johnson said that meteorologists can speak to their specific areas of expertise only.
“For example, our Weather Preparedness Meteorologists are experts in their field of severe weather and speak to this subject. Questions about climate change or long-term trends would be directed to a climatologist or other applicable authority,” Johnson told IFL Science.
The Meteorological Service of Canada is a division of Environment Canada.
According to IFL Science, the Canadian Government banned scientists from speaking to the media about their findings without political clearance in 2006, right after Stephen Harper was elected prime minister. The current ban is part of a long process of shutting down research programs that are likely "not in keeping with the Conservative government's agenda," IFL Science reports.
However, the ban is not taken lightly by the scientists conducting environmental and meteorological research across the country.
Design & Trend reports that a survey put out by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada asked federal government scientists to come forward about their thoughts on the ban. According to Design & Trend, around 90 percent "feel they are not allowed to speak freely to the media about the work they do, and that, faced with a departmental decision that could harm public health, safety or the environment, nearly as many (86 percent) would face censure or retaliation for doing so."
Survey results also found that nearly 25 percent of respondents have been asked directly to "exclude or alter" information for non-scientific reasons, Design & Trend reports.
This "war on evidence" has been an ongoing debate between scientists and politicians since the Harper administration, when the Canadian government introduced "tough media relations protocol to scientists," Yahoo Canada reports.
In 2011, Canadian scientists Kristi Miller was reportedly refused the right to do media interviews about her research into a salmon-killing virus, according to Yahoo Canada. The same year, a government team studying global CO2 emissions was banned from giving public comment, Yahoo Canada reports.
On top of media bans and press protocols, massive cuts to science programs by the Canadian government are also on-going issues. Whether or not the government is trying to end the debate on climate change, the current limitations on the careers of those working to solve environment problems are a serious drawback to any and all changes on a political or scientific level when it comes to climate change.
Does the public not have the right to know?
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