The Scientific Activist (Archives)


Mar 10, 2006

Eh, We Probably Know Enough About That Global Warming Stuff by Now Anyways....

Demonstrating that the United States is not the only country where environmental research finds itself under threat, Tuesday’s Independent reported on scientists and scientific organizations expressing concern and opposition about proposed cuts to major United Kingdom wildlife research centers. Although the cuts don’t smell of the same political partisanship underlying the attacks in the U.S., the threatened research centers have a proven track record of producing important research, often with poignant implications for global warming:
A torrent of high-level opposition is building up to the proposals to scrap Britain's three leading wildlife research centres, which are due to be voted on tomorrow.

More than 1,000 formal objections have been received by the Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc) to its plans to close the centres at Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire, Winfrith in Dorset and Banchory near Aberdeen.

The scheme, which will also see 200 wildlife scientists sacked, has caused anger among environmentalists, many of whom believe more, not less, specialised wildlife research is needed to protect Britain's habitats and species from growing threats, especially climate change.

The centres have been responsible for many discoveries about the natural world and the pressures on it. These include the first proof that global warming is having an impact on the living environment - Monks Wood researchers have shown that spring now arrives in Britain three weeks earlier than 50 years ago.

The Independent article provides a thorough outline of the scientific accomplishments of the three research centers, and rather than reproducing it here, I would encourage you to go to the source for more details. Although the types of studies at the centers cover a hodgepodge of disparate topics of varying significant, The Independent focuses on those that have helped demonstrate the pervasive consequences of global warming. Despite this, the article also details some of the more scientific objections to the proposed closures:
The Royal Society, Britain's science academy and the most prestigious scientific body in the land, says: "Of particular concern are the threats posed to the vitally important long-term environmental monitoring sites, programmes, and data sets that play such a key role in underpinning our understanding of the natural environment and environmental change."

The Government's own wildlife conservation agency, English Nature, says it has "major concerns over the scale of the proposed cuts in staff and facilities". It comments: "We are concerned that even if biodiversity research programmes, and work on long term research and data, are retained, closure of centres and relocation of staff may mean that key staff with skills and knowledge essential to such work may be lost. This risks compromising these vital programmes."

Regardless of at what angle one approaches the issue, legitimate arguments against closing the centers abound. In light of the strong case against the proposal, and in light of the significant opposition that has built up against it, proponents of the plan will have to make quite an exceptional case in favor of the closures to win over support. At this point, though, it seems that it is in the best interest of the environment and U.K. science in general for this not to happen.


  • That completely stinks. I have fond memories of my trip to Banchory in 1992. I can't believe that people don't value the work done at these research centers.

    By Blogger ranger, at Fri Mar 10, 03:59:00 PM  

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