What It Do: Ignorance Is The New Knowledge

Disturbing rumors have been trickling down from the Great North for several years now, beginning in 2008, when conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave the executive order to phase out the position of National Science Advisor.

At the time, Canadian officials argued that the position was redundant because of a new agency created in 2007: the Science, Technology and Innovation Council. The STIC consists of 17 members appointed by the Minister of Industry (nothing untoward about that!) and seems to be focused on optimizing Canada’s science policy for the benefit of the business community.

No wonder they chose to give the government’s chief scientist the boot.

Over the past year or so, the rumors have erupted into an outright controversy, as the Canadian science community and its allies are vehemently protesting the policies of the Harper administration, especially those revolving around the ability of scientists to freely communicate with journalists and colleagues.

According to government spokespeople, the changes in communication policy are simply an overall effort to “modernize” the way the government does business. Sure, and credit default swaps were just tools to modernize the mortgage market.

More likely, the Harper government is actively seeking to suppress any evidence which could make things inconvenient for the ongoing effort to ramp up oil production and distribution from the Alberta tar sands. There are pipelines to be constructed, barrels to be filled, and toxic waste to be piled in mountains on the banks of the Detroit River.

Can’t let science get in the way of progress.

Down here below the border, things aren’t much better, with obfuscation and deception becoming standard procedure when dealing with everything from long-term business strategy to crisis management.

The USDA is in the process of allowing processed chicken be imported from China, a country with notorious food sanitation problems, not to mention regular outbreaks of avian flu (which can be transmitted to humans through eating improperly prepared meat). To make the situation even more suspect, the chickens themselves will come from the United States—presumably not from a free range farm—and be shipped to China for processing into food products which will then be reimported into the United States.

But because of the anemic labeling and disclosure laws in the United States, you won’t know if that box of McNuggets includes chicken processed in China.

Colorado is experiencing 1,000-year floods, created by record-breaking rainfall and high canyon walls. Climate change experts are being understandably cagey about declaring a definite causal role of the planetary phenomenon, and it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that the out-of-season rains were simply Mother Nature having a millennial conniption fit. Too bad scientists studying the role of climate change in the Colorado disaster will now have a much harder time accessing relevant data produced by their colleagues in the North.

In the meantime, the flooding has done extensive damage to the oil and natural gas infrastructure in its path, submerging wells and storage tanks. In response to public concern about the danger, statements from both government officials and company spokespeople has run along the lines of: Everything’s fine, the wells are safe, the storage containers are sealed, nothing to see here, move along, citizen.

Reminds me of the kind of shit Japanese officials said about Fukushima before they had to admit they had pretty much irradiated the fucking Pacific Ocean.

In this case, we don’t even have to wait for the official response to acknowledge reality. Overturned tanks leaking rainbow streaks behind them, bubbles in the water over a natural gas well, and a fracking chemical warehouse full of floodwater are just a few of the images freely available online, and sourceable to local Colorado organizations and individuals.

Personally, I’ll believe my eyes, backed up by people who are actually there, over the word of a media spokesperson with an agenda.

With all this subterfuge, we have the emergence of the mechanisms of 21st century corporate rule. While they are not above deploying violence to serve their agenda, especially in the developing world, the corporate class prefers to seduce people into wearing their chains voluntarily. It’s much more profitable that way.

Thankfully, modern day communication technology—the internet, smartphones, etc.—often allows people to undermine corporate attempts to control information, but there is no guarantee that this will remain the case. Issues like net neutrality (the principle that all data should be prioritized equally on the public internet) and public access form the battlegrounds on which this fight is currently playing out.

If we lose the fight for the internet, we’re going to be hard pressed to push back against the kind of information suppression policies that are becoming standard operating procedure for corporate-controlled government.

We could all learn hobo signs, I suppose.