Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 344

344         Arctic Yearbook 2014 Granted, budget cuts to natural resource management agencies have not been restricted to Canada in recent years. The United State’s federal budget sequestration in March 2013 has also had a chilling impact on NOAA’s hiring of new staff and has further drained the agency’s grant and contract funding for the year (Berger 2013). However, the budget woes of the United States have not been accompanied by such a targeted and systematic dissolution of federal industry oversight as has been observed in Canada. At the same time there has also been an increasing alarm among many in the Canadian scientific community over the administration’s “muzzling” of scientists with research or evidence that does not support and advance the administration’s current pro-industry and prooil/gas development agendas (Fitzpatrick 2012; Linnet 2012). The ability of resource managers and government scientists to engage with communities in meaningful ways has become highly politicized according to a recent report from the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Clinic. This is due, in part, to the administration’s new policies requiring all government scientists to receive consent from public relations officers before answering questions from the media (Greenwood 2013). Both the dismissal and silencing of Canadian scientists are not just issues of concern for researchers monitoring the downstream impacts of industry, however. For many years, Canadian researchers have also played an important role in international efforts to describe and model climate change. Charles Emmerson (2010) has recently addressed the ongoing significance of these efforts. As he succinctly states, “get it right, and we will save money and lives; get it wrong, and we will waste money and lose lives. The case for supporting Arctic scientific research, therefore, is unanswerable. And the case for supporting its internationalization – to allow for the best global talent to emerge and to allow for a common scientific understanding of climate change to be forged – is compelling” (141). As collaborative international science and research has also been a dominant means of establishing Canada’s presence in the power dynamics of the emerging Arctic world region, reverberations from the felling of environmental science and research may portend surprising upsets to Canada’s geopolitical clout in the years to come – and these surprises will, no doubt, have implications for Canadian lives and livelihoods. Already, for many people in the Canadian Arctic, the ongoing international debate over whether or not we have exceeded the prescriptive environmental boundaries needed to provide “a safe operating space for humanity” is no longer moot (Rockström et al. 2009). The reality of the Canadian North is concretely one of a climate-altered environment. Yet, while this international debate persists, much of the environmental management theory and literature remains co-opted by ongoing calls for scientists and policy-makers to work on building greater ecosystem resilience as a way to deal with the extent of climate change uncertainty. However, as Berkes et al. (2005) have emphasized, “discussing vulnerability only in the positive terms of resilience and capacity places the onus on Aboriginal people to absorb and counteract negative environmental impacts caused by the industrial economy, rather than targeting the problems to demand change” (65). In lieu of ecosystem resilience theory, calls are now being made by some environmental ethicists