Beriault, Robert. 1997. Key research station in greenhouse gas study to close. Ottawa Citizen, Letters, April 18, 1997.

The Canadian Government’s relentless “seek excellence and destroy” policy is once more being put in practice. It is not enough that Environment Canada has failed in its commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but to top it off, it has decided to shut down the Sable Island Atmospheric Research Station which monitors the results of its inaction.

The Sable Island Atmospheric Research Station is one of the world’s leading research facilities for studying the effects humans are exerting on the atmosphere. Many studies of the atmosphere are carried out:

Aerological observations to measure conditions in the upper atmosphere;
Intensive studies on the development of East Coast storms and cyclones;
Atmospheric long-range transport of pollutants from the mainland;
Background carbon dioxide levels, a measure of global warming;
Atmospheric turbidity, a measure of air pollution;
Tropospheric ozone, a measure of how smog is modified after leaving pollution zones;
Atmospheric aerosol, to better understand the feedback mechanisms of global warming;
Atmospheric oxygen and its link to the distribution of carbon dioxide – also a global warming study.

The reason Environment Canada has evoked for the ending of one of Canada’s success stories was one of budget cuts. In reaction to this decision, long-term financial support has been subsequently found outside of the public purse to continue funding the research activities.

Environment Canada now speaks of maintaining a human presence on the island, but, in spite of the new-found funding, still intends to close the research station. Environment Minister Sergio Marchi had failed to date to provide any assurance that the Sable Island Research Station will be kept operating or any reason for his department’s decision.

At the heart of this issue lies the government’s reversal of direction with regards to research. Research is the foundation of this country’s industry, medicine, agriculture and education. By cutting it back this way, we are jeopardizing the financial future of our children and by neglecting to tackle atmospheric pollution we are forsaking the environment needed for their survival.

Robert Beriault, Val-de-Monts, Québec