The CBC reports on a protest by scientists that happened earlier today in Canada. The scientists were protesting cuts to basic research by the current government, most notably on the collection of scientific data.
Has there actually been a severe cut to science funding as is being claimed by the protesters? Macleans Magazine notes that funding for science and technology has actually increased since the current government has gained power. However, there has been a marked shift away from basic science and data collection to applied sciences. In addition, it seems that there are far more scientists than there were a decade ago, so even with more funding, the competition has increased.
The cuts that have been most widely publicized were to earth sciences, specifically areas that collect data. For example, the Canadian government announced in the last budget that the world renowned Experimental Lakes Area would be shut down. The announcement to cut funding to monitor ozone layer was condemned by scientists, as an ozone hole opened up in the northern hemisphere for the first time last year. If you don’t monitor a problem, how do you know how severe it is?
I have to admit, I personally foresaw this happening, and it was one of the main reasons I decided to leave Canada for my PHD. Collecting data should always be priority number one, as you cannot make policy decisions (or make models) without it!