Ecojustice & Sustainability Network Seminar, Sept 20 2013

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Science & policy? An aquatic scientist’s perspective. Ecojustice Seminar September 20, 2013 (Sustainability Network Offices, Toronto, Ontario)

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Ecojustice & Sustainability Network Seminar, Sept 20 2013

  1. 1. Science & policy?  An aquatic scientist’s perspective Linda Campbell Senior Research Fellow in Environmental Science Ecojustice, Sept 20, 2013 Toronto, Canada
  2. 2. Scientists typically do not get involved  with policy & legislation. As a result, there is a real need for clear  communication of good science… …in order for the right people to develop  good policy and effective legal structures… … and for environmental lawyers so they  have good information for their job. http://evelyntagbo.blogspot.ca/2012/12/a‐ fatal‐gap‐between‐science‐and‐policy.html
  3. 3. Canadian successes: Two freshwater case studies Mercury science in Canada (driven by policy makers) Phosphorus & eutrophication in lakes (driven by scientists)
  4. 4. Mercury: a known toxic  chemical for 1000’s of years http://masters‐of‐photography.com/images/full/smith/smith_minimata.jpg W. Eugene Smith Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath Minamata, 1972
  5. 5. 5
  6. 6. Environment Canada CARA  Mercury Science Program • Actions to reduce  emissions of key air  pollutants. • Driven by Env. Can.  policy developers. • Funding of science to  inform policy  recommendations.
  7. 7. Ecological risk using fish as biomonitors Modelled mercury concentrations  in yellow perch Modelled mercury concentrations  in walleye Depew DC Burgess NM & Campbell LM. Environmental Pollution (accepted)
  8. 8. Jan 23 2013: Canada agrees to UN Mercury Treaty w.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/Mercury/Negotiations/INC5/INC5PressReleases/tabid/106835/Default.aspx
  9. 9. Mr Lovenstein; http://www.mrlovenstein.com/comic/354#comic Intermission This is  why  good policy developers and lawyers are needed….
  10. 10. Lake Erie is “dead”?  http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/s2427.htmhttp://greatlakeslessons.com/mod/page/view.php?id=158
  11. 11. Case study 2: Experimental Lakes Area (From Science, 2008)
  12. 12. How was phosphorus  identified as the culprit  nutrient? http://www.responsiblepurchasing.org/purchasing_guides/cleaners/social_environ/http://sevenhillslake.com/technical.html
  13. 13. What did the  scientists do? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/scientists‐protest‐lakes.html http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2010/10/15/f‐david‐schindler.html • Communicate,  communicate, communicate. • Communicate again! • Became advocates. • Testified at state,  provincial & federal  panels. • Testified at US court  cases. • (Many of them became so good at this, they are  still advocating 40 + years later)
  14. 14. What did the governments do? • International Joint Commission: Great Lakes  Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), 1972,  renewed & amended regularly. • Canada‐Ontario Agreement regarding the  Great Lakes • Lakewide Management Plans by all involved  US and Canada agencies (federal, state &  prov). • Municipality regulations on sewage and runoff sembassy.gov/news‐events/2012‐news‐and‐events/september‐2012/7‐september‐2012‐united‐states‐and‐canada‐sign‐amended‐great‐lakes‐water‐quality‐agreement.html
  15. 15. Did phosphorus reductions work? Yes. But…. • Invasive mussels • Changes in form of  phosphorus • Increased agriculture  pressures • Climate change  2011  Algal  bloom
  16. 16. http://evelyntagbo.blogspot.ca/2012/12/a‐ fatal‐gap‐between‐science‐and‐policy.html Science & environmental policy • Good policy demands good  science. • Communication is key. • Legislation often driven by  negative situations. • Environmental law often  difficult due to contradictory  interpretations of science &  impact.  • Need objective science  perspectives.
  17. 17. Can be challenging for  scientists to reach out  beyond science • Incentives limited. • A lot of work!  • Must find science‐policy nexus, rounding up the  right people at the right time, and follow up.  (good summary  by COMPASS linked below). • Can be very unrewarding especially if scientist  regarded as pushy and intrusive  – (as what happened to the ELA scientists) – Need the right framework & supportive network. compassblogs.org/blog/2013/09/16/navigators/;  Smith B. (2013) COMPASS: Navigating the Rules of Scientific Engagement. PLoS Biol 11(4): e1001552. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001552
  18. 18. Should scientists get involved? • Depends on who you ask. • But research stations closed,  libraries closed, funding shifted  to industrial & business foci. • So scientists are learning… • Sept 16 #StandUp4Sci rallies  organized by Evidence for  Democracy in 17 cities across  Canada. • BUT is protesting an effective  means of influencing policy? Timeline: http://scienceblogs.com/confessions/2013/05/20/the‐canadian‐war‐on‐science‐a‐long‐unexaggerated‐devastating‐chronological‐indictm Evidence for Democracy: https://evidencefordemocracy.ca/
  19. 19. Lessons learned by scientists  involved in @SaveELA campaign. 1. “Not only our role but our responsibility as scientists  to advocate for science in the public domain” 2. “some necessary tools were missing from our toolkit.  For example we had to research the democratic  options” for lobbying and media communication. 3. “Effective communication is key to getting a message  to resonate with the public”, including distilling  complex scientific concepts. 4. “We realized that professional connections within the  scientific community was not, by themselves,  adequate for this work.” 5. “We learned to take ownership of past mistakes” Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin 22(3):76‐78. (I can send a PDF copy by email)
  20. 20. Some useful resources: • Canadian Science Policy Centre:  http://sciencepolicy.ca/ • Science Media Centre of Canada:  http://www.sciencemediacentre.ca/smc/ • Banff Science Communication Workshop (2  week immersive program):  http://www.banffscience.ca/
  21. 21. Advocacy v.s. timely policy development?

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