Tag Archives: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Money and its influence on Canada’s fisheries and oceans

Having neither the research skills nor the resources to investigate the impact the money (and power) have on science in Canada, more specifically, on our fisheries and oceans, I have to thank the Canadian Science Media Centre for the link to a paper on the topic.

As usual, you’ll find a citation and link to the paper at the end of this posting. First, a few reasons why you may want to take a look at the paper in its entirety. From the “Is scientific inquiry still incompatible with government information control? A quarter-century later” paper,


Twenty-six years ago, in response to regionally devastating fisheries collapses [collapse of Maritime provinces cod fisheries] in Canada, Hutchings et al. asked “Is scientific inquiry incompatible with government information control?” Now, a quarter-century later, we review how government science advice continues to be influenced by non-science interests, particularly those with a financial stake in the outcome of the advice. We use the example of salmon aquaculture in British Columbia, Canada, to demonstrate how science advice from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) can fail to be impartial, evidence-based, transparent, and independently reviewed—four widely implemented standards of robust science advice. Consequently, DFO’s policies are not always supported by the best available science. These observations are particularly important in the context of DFO having struggled to sustainably manage Canada’s marine resources, creating socio-economic uncertainty and putting the country’s international reputation at risk as it lags behind its peers. We conclude by reiterating Hutchings et al.’s unheeded recommendation for a truly independent fisheries-science advisory body in Canada to be enshrined in the decision-making process.

Over a quarter of a century later, the cod fisheries and others are in dire conditions, Note: Links have been removed,

… numerous Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) populations are at historically low abundances (Peterman and Dorner 2012; Riddell et al. 2013; Bendriem et al. 2019; COSEWIC 2019), and Canada’s Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) stocks remain in a “critical” state (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2020).

Much of the paper is written in an academic style and features an alphabet soup. For example, COSEWIC is Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. That said, there are many valuable comments, from the “Is scientific inquiry still incompatible with government information control? A quarter-century later” paper, Note: Links have been removed,

… Science advice is integral to DFO’s [Department of Fisheries and Oceans] role, but the provision of Canadian fisheries-science advice is challenging, due not only to the diversity and large geographic scale of Canada’s ocean environments, but also to the pitfalls inherent in providing science advice.

Although science can play an important role in the mitigation and reversal of anthropogenic stresses by supplying evidence for policy decisions, competing interests and ideologies can impede the delivery of robust science advice and its integration into government policy decisions. In particular, individuals or groups with vested interests can manipulate the science-policy process through the “disinformation playbook” (Reed et al. 2021)—a collection of strategies that downplay and obscure risk by seeding doubt about scientific consensus (Freudenburg et al. 2008). These tactics can be used to discount the connections between negative health or environmental outcomes and their corporate or industrial causes, at times resulting in regulatory capture, a “process by which regulation… is consistently or repeatedly directed away from the public interest and toward the interests of the regulated industry, by the intent and action of the industry itself” (Carpenter and Moss 2013). Examples of regulatory capture exist in relation to cancers from tobacco use, bird-population declines from dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), ozone-layer depletion from chlorofluorocarbons, and climate change from greenhouse gas emissions (Oreskes and Conway 2010; Anker et al. 2011).

It’s not all bad news, from the “Is scientific inquiry still incompatible with government information control? A quarter-century later” paper, Note: Links have been removed,

Reassuringly, governments commonly seek to incorporate evidence and scientific findings to strengthen policy and better inform decision-making. A flagship example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), provides policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis for climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation (Masson-Delmotte et al. 2021). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assesses the global extinction risks for animal, fungal, and plant species (IUCN Red List 2022). In Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) (Waples et al. 2013) provides species threat-status assessments whose quality and independence are internationally recognized (Waples et al. 2013). Recently, to inform their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, many national governments drew on science advisory bodies, such as the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) in Canada (Macdonald and Pickering 2009; Ismail et al. 2010).

The authors make note of how social, political, legal, and economic issues affect decisions and then they call out a few specific problems with the Canadian effort, specifically, Pacific Coast salmon aquaculture, from the “Is scientific inquiry still incompatible with government information control? A quarter-century later” paper, Note: Links have been removed,

Salmon aquaculture has had a turbulent history in Canada, particularly on the Pacific coast, where non-native Atlantic salmon comprises 89% of aquaculture production by quantity and 95% by value (FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022). The controversy on the Pacific coast—where the industry is regulated federally, by DFO, rather than provincially, as in Atlantic Canada—is largely due to the amplification of disease and its transmission from farmed to wild salmon, a concern for salmon farming globally (Garseth et al. 2013; Krkošek 2017; Kibenge 2019; Mordecai et al. 2021). The Pacific coast of Canada is perhaps the only region in the world where salmon farming was developed alongside abundant, viable wild salmon stocks (FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022). In this context, widespread declines of many wild Pacific salmon populations (Peterman and Dorner 2012; Riddell et al. 2013; Bendriem et al. 2019, 2019), in parallel with growing evidence of the ecological effects of salmon farms, have eroded the social license for the industry to operate (Wiber et al. 2021; Reid et al. 2022). …

The quality of DFO’s science advice on salmon farming in BC is particularly important in the context of growing evidence that⁠ (due to multiple causes⁠) wild salmon are not thriving (Peterman and Dorner 2012; Riddell et al. 2013; Bendriem et al. 2019; COSEWIC 2019), and has repeatedly been a cause for concern among scientists, nongovernmental organisations, Indigenous groups, and even government bodies (Proboszcz 2018; Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans 2021a). …

… for some, the close relationships between members of the salmon aquaculture industry and DFO personnel raise concerns that these standards of impartiality are not being met. For example, the former Director of DFO’s Aquaculture, Biotechnology, and Aquatic Animal Health Science Branch was previously the President of the Aquaculture Association of Canada (Supplementary data, pp. 80–82), an organisation with the objective to “promote, support, and encourage… [the] advancement of aquaculture in Canada” (Supplementary data, p. 83). Similarly, the former Director of the Pacific Biological Station and Head of Aquaculture for DFO later served as Chair of the Science Advisory Council for the BC Salmon Farmers Association, by which he was described as “a strong advocate for the aquaculture industry in BC” (Supplementary data, pp. 84–85). These are just two examples among many. …

DFO’s accountability to industry was once again brought to light in 2022 when a prominent DFO research scientist testified in front of a parliamentary committee that DFO’s ability to conduct robust, transparent evidence-based risk assessments on aquaculture–wild interactions was compromised by a lack of independence from industry (Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans 2021b). Examples of the Department’s processes for developing salmon-farm regulations, while not examples of science advice, further call industry influence into question. …

In the end, the authors had this to say about all of the fisheries and oceans science advice given to the department, from the “Is scientific inquiry still incompatible with government information control? A quarter-century later” paper, Note: Links have been removed,

The case for improving fisheries-science advice in Canada has never been stronger. DFO’s standard of fisheries-science advice now lags behind international best practice (Hutchings et al. 2012b; Winter and Hutchings 2020) as well as Canada’s own science advisory bodies, such as COSEWIC and the NACI, which strive to offer advice unfiltered and unaffected by political or bureaucratic influences. Yet DFO continues to allow industry lobbying and other non-science influences to interfere with advice processes (see Impartial section) while publicly claiming that the resulting advice is based on science (Supplementary data, pp. 10–15). …

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Is scientific inquiry still incompatible with government information control? A quarter-century later by Sean C. Godwin, Andrew W. Bateman, Gideon Mordecai, Sean Jones, and Jeffrey A. Hutchings. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences DOI: https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2022-0286 Published: 31 July 2023

This paper is open access and because I don’t ever before recall seeing an ‘Acknowledgements’ section that is sad, humorous, and touching, here it is,


We dedicate this paper to Jeffrey Hutchings, who tragically passed away halfway through the writing process. Jeff was a giant of the field who had an immense, positive influence on his friends and colleagues, and on fisheries science and policy in Canada and beyond. JH contributed to the conception and outline of the paper, wrote the first draft of the Introduction, edited as far as the “Background” subsection of the “Salmon Aquaculture Case Study,” discussed the case study examples, and penned a portion of the “Conclusions and Recommendations.” SG, AB, and GM all contributed equally to the manuscript (and reserve the right to list themselves as first author on their CVs). Published order of the co-first authors was determined via haphazard out-of-a-hat selection by AB’s 18-month-old son, Linden; whether this process bears all four hallmarks of robust science advice was not assessed. We are very grateful to 14 colleagues who provided valuable feedback during preparation and review.

Congratulations! Noēma magazine’s first year anniversary

Apparently, I am an idiot—if the folks at Expunct and other organizations passionately devoted to their own viewpoints are to be believed.

To be specific, Berggruen Institute (which publishes Noēma magazine) has attracted remarkably sharp criticism and, by implication, that seems to include anyone examining, listening, or reading the institute’s various communication efforts.

Perhaps you’d like to judge the quality of the ideas for yourself?

Abut the Institute and about the magazine

The institute is a think tank founded by Nicolas Berggruen, US-based billionaire investor and philanthropist, and Nathan Gardels, journalist and editor-in-chief of Noēma magazine, in 2010. Before moving onto the magazine’s first anniversary, here’s more about the Institute from its About webpage,

Ideas for a Changing World

We live in a time of great transformations. From capitalism, to democracy, to the global order, our institutions are faltering. The very meaning of the human is fragmenting.

The Berggruen Institute was established in 2010 to develop foundational ideas about how to reshape political and social institutions in the face of these great transformations. We work across cultures, disciplines and political boundaries, engaging great thinkers to develop and promote long-term answers to the biggest challenges of the 21st Century.

As the for the magazine, here’s more from the About Us webpage (Note: I have rearranged the paragraph order),

In ancient Greek, noēma means “thinking” or the “object of thought.” And that is our intention: to delve deeply into the critical issues transforming the world today, at length and with historical context, in order to illuminate new pathways of thought in a way not possible through the immediacy of daily media. In this era of accelerated social change, there is a dire need for new ideas and paradigms to frame the world we are moving into.

Noema is a magazine exploring the transformations sweeping our world. We publish essays, interviews, reportage, videos and art on the overlapping realms of philosophy, governance, geopolitics, economics, technology and culture. In doing so, our unique approach is to get out of the usual lanes and cross disciplines, social silos and cultural boundaries. From artificial intelligence and the climate crisis to the future of democracy and capitalism, Noema Magazine seeks a deeper understanding of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.

Published online and in print by the Berggruen Institute, Noema grew out of a previous publication called The WorldPost, which was first a partnership with HuffPost and later with The Washington Post. Noema publishes thoughtful, rigorous, adventurous pieces by voices from both inside and outside the institute. While committed to using journalism to help build a more sustainable and equitable world, we do not promote any particular set of national, economic or partisan interests.

First anniversary

Noēma’s anniversary is being marked by its second paper publication (the first was produced for the magazine’s launch). From a July 1, 2021 announcement received via email,

June 2021 marked one year since the launch of Noema Magazine, a crucial milestone for the new publication focused on exploring and amplifying transformative ideas. Noema is working to attract audiences through longform perspectives and contemporary artwork that weave together threads in philosophy, governance, geopolitics, economics, technology, and culture.

“What began more than seven years ago as a news-driven global voices platform for The Huffington Post known as The WorldPost, and later in partnership with The Washington Post, has been reimagined,” said Nathan Gardels, editor-in-chief of Noema. “It has evolved into a platform for expansive ideas through a visual lens, and a timely and provocative portal to plumb the deeper issues behind present events.”

The magazine’s editorial board, involved in the genesis and as content drivers of the magazine, includes Orhan Pamuk, Arianna Huffington, Fareed Zakaria, Reid Hoffman, Dambisa Moyo, Walter Isaacson, Pico Iyer, and Elif Shafak. Pieces by thinkers cracking the calcifications of intellectual domains include, among many others:

·      Francis Fukuyama on the future of the nation-state

·      A collage of commentary on COVID with Yuval Harari and Jared Diamond 

·      An interview with economist Mariana Mazzucato on “mission-oriented government”

·      Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang on digital democracy

·      Hedge-fund giant Ray Dalio in conversation with Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz

·      Shannon Vallor on how AI is making us less intelligent and more artificial

·      Former Governor Jerry Brown in conversation with Stewart Brand 

·      Ecologist Suzanne Simard on the intelligence of forest ecosystems

·      A discussion on protecting the biosphere with Bill Gates’s guru Vaclav Smil 

·      An original story by Chinese science-fiction writer Hao Jingfang

Noema seeks to highlight how the great transformations of the 21st century are reflected in the work of today’s artistic innovators. Most articles are accompanied by an original illustration, melding together an aesthetic experience with ideas in social science and public policy. Among others, in the past year, the magazine has featured work from multimedia artist Pierre Huyghe, illustrator Daniel Martin Diaz, painter Scott Listfield, graphic designer and NFT artist Jonathan Zawada, 3D motion graphics artist Kyle Szostek, illustrator Moonassi, collage artist Lauren Lakin, and aerial photographer Brooke Holm. Additional contributions from artists include Berggruen Fellows Agnieszka Kurant and Anicka Yi discussing how their work explores the myth of the self.

Noema is available online and annually in print; the magazine’s second print issue will be released on July13, 2021. The theme of this issue is “planetary realism,” which proposes to go beyond the exhausted notions of globalization and geopolitical competition among nation-states to a new “Gaiapolitik.” It addresses the existential challenge of climate change across all borders and recognizes that human civilization is but one part of the ecology of being that encompasses multiple intelligences from microbes to forests to the emergent global exoskeleton of AI and internet connectivity (more on this in the letter from the editors below).

Published by the Berggruen Institute, Noema is an incubator for the Institute’s core ideas, such as “participation without populism,” “pre-distribution” and universal basic capital (vs. income), and the need for dialogue between the U.S. and China to avoid an AI arms race or inadvertent war.

“The world needs divergent thinking on big questions if we’re going to meet the challenges of the 21st century; Noema publishes bold and experimental ideas,” said Kathleen Miles, executive editor of Noema. “The magazine cross-fertilizes ideas across boundaries and explores correspondences among them in order to map out the terrain of the great transformations underway.”  

I notice Suzanne Simard (from the University of British Columbia and author of “Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest”) on the list of essayists along with a story by Chinese science fiction writer, Hao Jingfang.

Simard was mentioned here in a May 12, 2021 posting (scroll down to the “UBC forestry professor, Suzanne Simard’s memoir going to the movies?” subhead) when it was announced that her then not yet published memoir will be a film starring Amy Adams (or so they hope).

Hao Jingfang was mentioned here in a November 16, 2020 posting titled: “Telling stories about artificial intelligence (AI) and Chinese science fiction; a Nov. 17, 2020 virtual event” (co-hosted by the Berggruen Institute and University of Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence [CFI]).

A month after Noēma’s second paper issue on July 13, 2021, the theme and topics appear especially timely in light of the extensive news coverage in Canada and many other parts of the world given to the Monday, August, 9, 2021 release of the sixth UN Climate report raising alarms over irreversible impacts. (Emily Chung’s August 12, 2021 analysis for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [CBC] offers a little good news for those severely alarmed by the report.) Note: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body tasked with assessing the science related to climate change.