Thursday, January 09, 2014

Archives Torched in Canada

Climate change has been in the news a lot lately thanks to the extreme severe winter weather that has affected most of the United States and Canada over the past several weeks.  Researchers investigating changes in weather often seek out archival materials in order to glean historical evidence of patterns in weather events and temperatures.  Canadian environmental researchers will be out of luck in the future thanks to the decision of the Canadian government to destroy a number of archives relating to climate research.  In 2012, the government announced it was going to close down national archives sites around the country, but promised to digitize any materials that were going to be discarded or sold.  It turns out that only a small part of the archives was scanned, while the balance was sent to landfills, burned, or otherwise disposed of.  According to this report, archives relating to climate change fared the worst because of the Conservative government's hostility to climate research.  Among the archives destroyed were the environmental research materials of the St. Andrews Biological Station in New Brunswick, the Freshwater Institute Library in Winnipeg, and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John's.  The report goes on to state that no records were kept of what was discarded, sold, lost, or burned.  The materials that were destroyed are priceless and irreplaceable.  They contained nearly one hundred years' worth of information related to Canadian fisheries, freshwater ecosystems, and oceans.  The savings generated by closing the archives is small--$443,000 dollars (Canadian) a year.  Critics of the closures maintain that they were driven by the Conservative government's war against science and evidence-based climate research. 

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