Sunday, January 12, 2014

Survey: 81 Percent of Universities Say Sequester Has Directly Affected Research Activities; Canada also cutting research

(Graphic: Inside Higher Ed)

Survey: 81 Percent of Universities Say Sequester Has Directly Affected Research Activities
November 12, 2013
by Allison Kilkenny
This post first appeared in The Nation.

According to a new survey released Monday, 81 percent of responding universities said that sequestration, the automatic federal budget cuts, have directly affected their research activities. More than half of universities said a decrease in new federal grant opportunities and the shrinking value of existing grants, has prompted them to reduce research-related positions and nearly a quarter of the institutions said they have laid off research employees as a result of the cuts.

“The survey shows that sequestration is already eroding America’s research capabilities at universities across the country,” the Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and The Science Coalition announced in a written statement.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block has been criticized in the past by student activists for doling out lavish salaries for high-profile hires amid tuition hikes, budget cuts and recession, but on Monday he stated that a $50 million loss to the university’s research funding could lead to a brain drain, top researchers leaving in a mass exodus.


Dr. Andrew Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists talks about the "war on science." Block put things in stark terms, reminding members of Congress that many universities have no more emergency funds or administrative flexibility to help compensate for the sequester cuts.

“The buffer is much thinner,” said Block. “So if faculty members lose their grants, if grants don’t get re-funded because of sequestration, there is a limited amount we can do to keep labs running. So if you ask what is the long-term effect? …Literally labs close and people end up on the street. That’s the danger.”

The negative effects of sequester are already on display in Ohio. Dr. Stan Gerson, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, spent much of the past year calling members of Congress in hopes they would repeal cuts to research programs. Gerson told public radio WCPN, “It’s real jobs and real people” at stake.

From WCPN:

Case, like Michigan, receives some of the biggest federal grants in the US for research.

Of the roughly $400 million Case spends on research annually, about 80 percent comes from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Case’s cancer center offers an example of how sequestration funding is slowly squeezing the budget. This summer, news came that the center’s five-year operational grant fell by $6 million.

“It’s undoubtedly the case over an 18-month period that there will be a smaller workforce in our school and our university. Just because, where else are the dollars going to come from?” Gerson says.

While Case isn’t planning layoffs yet, they are more selectively filling positions and faculty members are being encouraged to consider flexible hours. Gerson also told WCPN that labs on campus aren’t hiring as many graduate students.

Others also expressed concern that cuts in research would result in the loss of a competitive edge against other countries that prioritize education and research.

“We lose our competitiveness with foreign countries, especially China and India, which are investing very heavily in research and development,” said Philip DiStefano, chancellor at University of Colorado Boulder. “The longer that sequestration goes on, the more chances are that we are going to lose our competitive edge that we have had with foreign countries.”

The world of academia has objected to harsh austerity measures for a long time. In March, Science Works for US collected video editorials from professors and administrators, who argued that the then-proposed cuts would threaten American research and innovation. An op-ed in the Financial Times from before the sequester stated that, “fully 75 percent of postwar growth is tied to technological innovation, according to the commerce department.”

But these concerns fell on deaf ears, even though budget cuts will have a ripple effect for multiple generations, stripping opportunities from burgeoning students, researchers and scientists.

“There is a clear and present danger that sequestration will damage America’s pre-eminence in scientific research and higher education over the long-term,” said Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun. “Given the impact we already have seen, we urge the members of the House and Senate who are negotiating funding for fiscal year 2014 and beyond to end sequestration, enable investments in scientific research and higher education and restore the dividends these investments produce for our economy and society.”

"Like a Book Burning" The Canadian government is closing scientific libraries and destroying docs
by Pakalolo
Daily Kos
Jan 12, 2014

"Paranoid ideologues have burned books and records throughout human history to try to squelch dissenting visions that they view as heretical, and to anyone who worships the great God Economy monotheistically, environmental science is heresy."

Post Media News has obtained a document stamped "SECRET" which exposes the closure or destruction of more than half a dozen world famous science libraries and countless scientific documents that they contain. The destruction and burning of documents has little if anything to do with digitizing the books and documents for cost savings as claimed by the Harper government.

The Tyee has several excellent reports detailing the destruction of scientific documents and the libraries that house them.

As reported by The Tyee earlier this month and again here, scientists are sounding alarms about libraries dismantled by the government, including Maurice-Lamontagne Institute, which housed 61,000 French language documents on Quebec's waterways, as well as the newly renovated $62-million library serving the historic St Andrews Biological Station (SABS) in St Andrews, New Brunswick. (Famed environmental scientist Rachel Carson corresponded with researchers at SABS for her groundbreaking book on toxins, Silent Spring. The station's contaminant research program has been axed by the Harper government.) Also shut down are the famous Freshwater Institute library in Winnipeg and one of the world's finest ocean collections at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Scientists who use the libraries say priceless information -- essential for the legal and political security of Canada's waterways as well as the defence of the longest coastline in the world -- was thrown into dustbins, burned or scavenged by private consultants. In Winnipeg, a consultant's group operating for Manitoba Hydro backed up a truck to collect materials from the dismantled library.

A DFO scientist anonymously told The Tyee, "The cuts were carried out in great haste apparently in order to meet some unknown agenda. No records have been provided with regard to what material has been dumped or the value of this public property. No formal attempt was made to transfer material to libraries of existing academic institutions."

In addition, the Harper government has forced hundreds of researchers and Coast Guard workers to be laid off. Harper has dismantled a marine contaminants program, closed the Kitsilano (Vancouver) Coast Guard station which is reportedly the first line of defense against oil spills.

The document lists 26 "tracks" or changes within the Department of Fisheries being carried out to help reduce Canada's federal budget deficit. Very few of those tracks' descriptions make claims for bolstering or improving marine safety, contaminant research, protection of fish habitat or the efficacy of the Coast Guard.

Instead, the document details numerous actions which create reductions or total elimination of these environmental services.

They include:

•The shrinkage of 20 Marine Communications and Traffic Service centres down to 11;
•The reduction of Inshore Rescue Boats;
•The reduction of Marine Search and Rescue services;
•The defunding of species at risk recovery oriented programs in the Maritimes;
•The closure of 21 Conservation and Protection offices, as "part of a broader departmental footprint reduction plan." Comox, Pender Harbour, Quesnel, Hazelton and Clearwater all lost offices;
•The closure of the Kitsilano Lifeboat Station in Vancouver;
•Closure of the Experimental Lakes Area;
•The killing of all biological effects contaminant research within the department.

The document explains that ending the capacity to do public research on freshwater and ocean pollutants such as bitumen spills "involves eliminating the in-house research program aimed at biological effects of contaminants, pesticide and oil and gas, and establishing a small advisory group to oversee the outsourcing of priority research needs."

Sounds like "quiet little rooms" if you ask me.

Environmental activists through out the world celebrated when George W. Bush was finally out of office. Since the election of Harper's regime, the world now has Canada with a leader, who like Bush, prides himself in the part that he plays in the destruction of the planet. Maurice Strong, the Canadian diplomat who was secretary-general of the famous 1992 Earth Summit, calls Harper’s government, “the most anti-environmental government that we’ve ever had, and one of the most anti-environmental governments in the world.”

Canada holds more than 20 per cent of the surface freshwater in the world, and its rivers and streams annually transport almost 10 per cent of the world flow of freshwater. Canada is also one of the world's largest seafood-exporting nations. All of which is now at risk of damage or destruction along with scientific evidence documenting the pollution and the damage to marine and freshwater systems.

The below corporations along with Charles and David Koch are pushing a libertarian brand of political activism that presses a large footprint on energy and climate issues. They have created and supported non-profit organizations, think tanks and political groups that work to undermine climate science, environmental regulation and clean energy. They are also top donors to politicians, who support the oil industry and deny any human role in global warming.

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Canadian Energy Pipeline Association
Petroleum Services Association of Canada
Propane Gas Association of Canada
Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors
Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association
Alberta Chamber of Resources
Alberta Chambers of Commerce
The Cement Association of Canada
Canadian Council of Chief Executives

I recommend reading the Tyee articles. There is to much atrocity documented there to elaborate on in one Dkos diary.

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