The Canadian federal government is going to cease funding the Experimental Lakes Area. Since the late 1960s, the ELA and its 58 small lakes have been doing amazing long-term monitoring and experiments on whole lakes, including groundbreaking studies of eutrophication and acid rain. Closer to home, they have arguably the best long-term phytoplankton and zooplankton time series data in the world–very frequent sampling of many lakes, going back decades, all resolved to species level, and with consistent sampling procedures and the same taxonomists doing the identifications. I’m the lead organizer of one of the many collaborative groups to have used the ELA data.
The Feds want to transfer ownership of the facilities to a university or the provincial government, on the grounds that universities, not governments, should be doing this kind of science. As if universities and the provincial government have lots of spare money lying around to run the ELA. And as if governments don’t need the kind of science the ELA has always provided (many of their experiments have been chosen precisely for their direct policy relevance).
Most days I’m proud to call Canada home. Not today.
UPDATE: See here for a very good explanation of why this was a bad decision, which also places the decision in the context of the Canadian government’s other reductions in support for basic science (which in turn are part of the current government’s strategy of reducing all federal expenditures and revenues)