When Stephen Harper's petrotories yanked funding from the Experimental Lakes Area — Canada's answer to the Large Hadron Collider, a captive ecosystem where some of the world's most important environmental research has been conducted — the world gasped and raced to rescue it; now, scientists are reduced to scrounging for crowdfunding to continue some of the most important environmental research in the world.
John calls it "an amazing opportunity for all of us to fund incredibly important basic scientific research" — it is, but it's also a blazing indictment of the year 2014, Canada, Stephen Harper, and hydrocarbons.
The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) is a freshwater research facility in Northwestern Ontario, Canada that has operated as a government research program for over 45 years. After the Canadian Government announced that it would no longer fund the ELA program, operations were transferred to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in April 2014. IISD now needs additional funding to expand ELA's vital legacy of research so that it can continue to find effective solutions to environmental problems affecting fresh water.
We can thank the ELA for many of the improvements we have seen in recent years to the quality of the water we use daily. ELA's whole-lake research findings have been instrumental in the phase-out of harmful phosphorus additives in cleaning products, tightening air pollution standards in response to acid rain threats, and proposed installation of scrubbers inside industrial smokestacks to reduce mercury levels found in the fish we eat.
The ELA features a collection of 58 small lakes, as well as a facility with accommodations and laboratories. Since its establishment in 1968, ELA has become one of the world's most influential freshwater research facilities. In part, this is because of the globally unique ability at ELA to undertake whole-ecosystem experiments.