Resetting the priorities of the “old” economy and the business of “not-that-much-eco-value” industry is a must.
As "research" and "innovation" matures, it culminates into a stuffy business model that includes private companies and academia feeding on government funds ( military research and military innovation, that is). It evolves into its own self-sustaining entity. Spending on antiquated programs seems only to support the tired old industry which, in this case, focuses on a small, highly specialized and technology expensive industry, that could not catch Bin Laden. The investments made in the Canadian Space Program reflects, in some part, this idea versus taking on the environmental challenges Canada has. Challenges I think Canada would succeed in.
Canada is involved in space and the spending is about $300 million a year. This excludes the staffing costs and pensions we pay for the government overhead to keep Canadas “toe in the pool” for expensive small splash projects in zero-gravity. The technology is interesting but services a small niche market. Now, a lot of pride is included in this field of experts and we are looking at some of the brightest minds in the industry. Being involved in space is important, but, how Canada is involved is the important key to understanding my point.
MDA is a satellite company in Canada. They are indeed one of the leaders in image technology and if we compare the potential of MDA to the Canadian Space Programs ( Moon visits, checking out Mars and space arms ) we see that MDA has technology that is applicable to the environmental issues we all face now. That being said, Canada was willing to sell MDA, a few years ago, to the “Bushy Empire” for a song, to be used for military applications. Not sure if Stephen Harpers lusty privateers were involved to look away, but, Peggy Nash, currently the President of the NDP, blocked the sale. She saw the value. She saw the value in the jobs and the technology. Thanks Peggy.
I think that a mission to Mars and the funds invested to say “we did it” is careless when the potential to advance and expand MDA beyond commercial satellite communications to environmental mapping for scientists, farmers, researchers, etc. has a huge potential in todays market for “Earth Info”. Imagine if an 12 year old wanted to see progress of rainforest depletion in Canada? ( I hope that made you think )
I see the adventure in exploration, but, I think we have bigger "fish to fry" here on Earth, first. I would like to see many government programs die and those funds used to focus on the future markets that are large and profitable for Canada. Of course we lack bold leadership in Canada. I don't see any potential candidates willing to risk their smug necks on bold innovation.
Canada has already slept through the start of the new green economy and I feel that the current system is far too entrenched in “old model economics” and restrained by the red tape of private interests for this new industry to innovate and prosper. Now they are playing catch up by dumping cash on “greenwashing”-type efforts with majority of the cash being used to reinvent the green wheel and churn up some “needed” public education spending.
Canada needs action and direct investment without the same old expensive and administration-heavy government process. Most of the technology is available now and new technology needs to be at the top of the priority list. Time to cut the deadwood and start nurturing the growing green markets with a process that maximizes the investment into tangible green assets and large market innovations, not trivial green awareness and poorly planned “low-return on environment” cash give-aways.
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