‘An Unparalleled Scientific Resource Endangered’

Swiss and American scientists criticize cancellation of world-renown Canadian research program 

In a new viewpoint article published in a leading scientific journal, Swiss and American scientists express their deep concern about the imminent closure of a unique freshwater research facility in Ontario, Canada. The Experimental Lakes Area is world-class institution for understanding global threats to freshwater lakes, but the Canadian government is cancelling this program next year.

The viewpoint article was written by internationally-respected scientists Dr. Janet Hering, Dr. Deborah Swackhamer, and Dr. William Schlesinger, and published in the top-ranking environmental science journal ‘Environmental Science & Technology’.

The Experimental Lakes Area consists of 58 pristine lakes and their watersheds in Ontario dedicated to whole-ecosystem research.  The authors explain that there is “no other facility in the world that allows for the study of physical, chemical, and biological processes in whole-lake ecosystems at this order of magnitude”.  Further, the authors emphasize that ELA has generated “policy-relevant science that has had major impact on political decision-making in the environmental arena for nearly four decades”.  The authors warn that “we can ill afford to abandon” this essential program.

From New York, Dr. William Schlesinger, President of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies remarked “The ongoing experiments and long-term data sets at the Experimental Lakes area are an unparalleled resource for critical evaluations of the ongoing changes to our planet”.

Dr. Janet Hering, Director of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, calls the ELA “a unique resource” that is “unmatched anywhere in the world”.  For her, the threat of closure calls to mind the lyrics sung by Joni Mitchell “Don’t it always seem to go/ That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.

“Closing ELA is a travesty – we will have lost forever so much future scientific understanding of our environment” exclaimed author Dr. Deborah Swackhamer, Professor of Public Affairs and Public Health and Co-Director of the Water Resources Center at the University of Minnesota.

Editor-in-Chief of ‘Environmental Science & Technology’, Dr. Jerald Schnoor, explained why he chose to publish the article: “Aldo Leopold once said that the first rule of a tinkerer is to never throw away any parts.  That is exactly what Canada has accomplished by performing research on whole lake ecosystems in the ELA.  Three world-renowned scientists in Hering, Swackhamer, and Schlesinger have written an elegant plea to save the ELA, and ES&T was grateful to publish it.”

The new article by Dr. Hering and colleagues is available electronically at: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es3030512

 

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  1. Pingback: Save the Experimental Lakes Area! | oncirculation·

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