As a society, Canadians should think very hard about where they want to pin their hopes for the future.
Is it on faith, or science?
Put another way, when you learn you are so sick your life hangs in the balance, who’s your go-to guy?
Would you call a fellow in a purple smock who grips your head in his meaty paws before an assembled congregation, calls out, “Bam! You’re healed,” and tosses you backward into a chair?
Or would you call a doctor, and submit yourself to a battery of tests and modern medicine?
That is, would you want to figure out what’s wrong and take measured steps to fix it?
Or would you let (insert preferred deity here) decide your fate for you?
The question is relevant because, after studying the issue in exhaustive depth, most of the world’s scientists believe the Earth’s ecosystems are sick and failing because human-caused atmospheric pollution is changing its climate.
In short, they warn us we are killing the planet.
On the other side are skeptics who, with no hard evidence, believe climate change has happened before, and is beyond our ability to control in any event.
In short, they simply have faith things will work out OK.
And, apparently, they are running Ottawa.
A government reveals itself best through its spending priorities.
And this government is tackling a deficit it ran up through tax cuts and spending on jails and fighter jets, by firing hundreds of scientists, meteorologists and weather experts working for the Environment Department.
In a time when the weather is goofy and the environment is under siege from human industrial activity, the need for monitoring and studying these things cannot be overstated.
Unless you’re one of those people who simply believes it’s beyond man’s control.
If you’re a politician with such faith, the troubling information scientists uncover is a bother.
It makes people nervous. And it makes them more likely to demand action, like regulations and standards that limit industrial development and economic progress.
Which is why a government might find it easy, when it’s looking to pay for prisons, weapons, tighter security and lower taxes, to cut scientists and monitoring agencies.
And why it might slap an unprecedented and wide-ranging gag order on the remaining federal scientists, ordering them to suppress studies that suggest, for example, that a warmer climate is killing Pacific salmon outright and creating ideal conditions for a virus that kills even more of them.
Better that citizens not know that, even if they’re the ones footing the bill to collect the information.
There are many issues at play in the Canadian government these days, but one of the biggest appears to be a battle between blind faith and systemic study.
Good information can make people demand action on things that those with faith believe is of little concern.
Like a sick planet.
Because of this, Canadians must now ask where they want to pin their hopes for the future.
Are we, as a society, going to look to hard science to fix what ails us?
Or do we simply have faith things will work out alright?
And, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper often says, God bless Canada.