photo thanks: I.L. Jones

Dr K.N.I. Bell's home page

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Book cover: Analysing Cycles...

Quips & observations:
The Path of Least Resistance leads inevitably downhill.
     When someone says "but I thought...", it usually means they didn't.
     We acknowledge many crises: environmental, population, economic, political, strategic ... but really they all are mere variants of an underlying crisis: dishonesty.  

Why biology is the most important science today:

"Environmental considerations are often mere footnotes in the plans and priorities of decision-makers. Nature and the economy are seen as conflicting interests.    
        The conflict is false, and if this perception is not reversed it will come to represent the most dangerous falsehood on the planet."  
(Gorbachev, Mikhail. 2000. Editorial: Employment and environment. Naturopa, no. 92, page 3.)

... and that's also why biologists need to be more savvy about how their work is used/abused/ignored

On accountability and governance:

[38th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION \ Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans \ EVIDENCE \ Thursday, September 29, 2005 [from Hansard; see also Ram Myers's presentation]]

The Chair (Mr. Tom Wappel, MP Scarborough Southwest, Lib.): I just want to put on the record the purpose of our visit here, so that it is clear to everyone. On February 8 of this year, our committee agreed to undertake a study of the northern cod, including the events leading to the collapse of the fishery and the failure of the stock to re-establish itself since the moratorium. That's why we're here.


The Chair: Please slow down, Dr. Bell. Science must be independent and what?

Dr. Kim Bell: It's all in the handout[*] that you don't have.
         [*the hearing wouldn't distribute my handout until they could have it translated into French, even though
             the entire hearing was in English and they had not asked beforehand for a translation.]

The Chair: Science must be independent and what?

Dr. Kim Bell: Science must be independent and open so that the public can keep an eye on what's going on.

The Chair: What was item (c)?

Dr. Kim Bell: (c) Catches, or TACs, or any other conservation measure must not violate those limits; (d) Those provisions, (a), (b) and (c), have to be set out in law; (e) Ministers and bureaucrats and any other persons who override or circumvent or falsify advice must be subject to statutory penalties.

The Chair: Good luck.

Dr. Kim Bell: I didn't say that I was going to be popular.


Dr. Kim Bell: My feeling is that in a democracy—this has nothing to do with your hearing, and yet it does, because this hearing is about democracy, really—every public servant has an obligation to give a straight answer to a question. Your straight answer can be, “I don't have a clue”, or it can be, “I'm not allowed to answer, you have to ask this other guy”, but you have to give a straight answer. When you get an answer that says differentiate between a management target and a conservation target and a rebuilding target and this and that, when everybody can see what happened, that's only looking for excuses; that's not a straight answer. There ought to be a statutory penalty for that, and the citizen should be able to go to somebody and say, “You're the officer of statutory penalties; I want my answer and I want this guy to get a statutory penalty.”

Hon. Shawn Murphy: We're following up on that, Dr. Bell—

Dr. Kim Bell: Thank you. I look forward to hearing you act.

Hon. Shawn Murphy: It's a very interesting point we're discussing here. You talk about the scientists. In justification to some of the scientists, I've talked to them and they have said, “Yes, I did recommend that the catch be lower, I did say that, but the politicians didn't follow my advice”. You've just said that.

Dr. Kim Bell: True.

Hon. Shawn Murphy: So it's not the scientists who are wrong; it's the politicians. [...]

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