The National Science Summit 2019 was presented by Bureau Veritas Laboratories yesterday at the Delta Toronto Hotel. A highlight of the conference was keynote speaker Nik Nanos, chief data scientist and founder of Nanos Research, and his engaging presentation on “Unpacking environmental aspirations, technology and jobs in the age of populism.”

Nanos, who leads Nanos Research, one of Canada’s most distinguished research companies, is also a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a research associate professor at the State University of New York in Buffalo and the chair of Carleton University in Ottawa. In addition, Nanos leads the team behind the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index and is featured in a weekly segment on CTV’s Nanos on the Numbers. He is also the pollster for CTV News, the Globe & Mail and Bloomberg News in Canada.

“There’s an interface between evidence-based decision-making and populism,” said Nanos. “It’s interesting to look at trends and identify the most important national issues. In terms of the environment, less than 10 per cent of Canadians prioritized it five years ago but there was a marked increase to almost 30 per cent in the 2019 federal election.”

Why is the environment a top priority for Canadians? Nanos believes that nowadays when people think about the environment, they’re not just thinking about the environmental issues but also the big picture of policy affecting long term well being and the economy.

“People are clearly thinking about climate change and global warming, pollution and pipelines. But Canadians are not becoming more green or environmental than they have been,” explained Nanos. “They’re just becoming more understanding of the connection between the environment and health, resources and new jobs in the clean tech industry. There’s an increased sensitivity of how the environment impacts our day to day lives.”

Nanos cited a recent study on environmental aspirations that indicates many Canadians believe it is possible to develop energy resources and protect the environment. The data indicates there’s a fundamental confidence in that possibility. At the same time, when asking Canadians about a long-term vision for the future, the scores are pessimistic – only one out of five Canadians believe in the current path and think that politicians driving the agenda lack long term vision.

“In a world where people don’t know who to trust, where there are various claims on what is real and what is fake with regard to science and technology, professional scientific data are critically important,” said Nanos. He advises political leaders to provide people with the evidence-based data they crave, such as Al Gore did with his book, An Inconvenient Truth, but also to appeal to their emotions the way young Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg has done with her popular movement against climate change.

Interestingly, his polls leading up to the election indicated that Canadians are not as divided on certain issues as some electoral politicians suggest. Rather, there is strong agreement among Canadians on a broad range of energy and environmental issues. For further information on this research, click here.

The goal of the National Science Summit is to share scientific advancement in environmental sciences, showcasing the technical depth and expertise within the industry. The forum also provides practitioners and leaders in the environmental marketplace with the opportunity to share success stories, best practices and key information about innovative and creative projects and technologies. For further information about the Science Summit, click here.

Bureau Veritas Laboratories is a North American provider of analytical services and solutions to the environmental, energy, food, DNA and industrial hygiene industries with an extensive laboratory network in Canada. Founded in 1828, Bureau Veritas is a global leader in testing, inspection and certification services with 75,000 employees in 1,500 locations worldwide. For further information on Bureau Veritas Labs, click here.

The Science Summit was followed by the 20th Annual Brownie Awards, hosted in partnership by the Canadian Brownfields Network and Actual Media. The Brownie Awards recognize builders, innovators and visionaries who are dedicated to the rehabilitation of brownfield sites that were once contaminated, underutilized and undeveloped into productive residential and commercial projects that contribute to the growth of healthy communities across Canada. For further information on the Brownie awards, click here.

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