Contributed by: Jim Ghadbane, President and CEO
In the face of international political agendas that seem intent on tightening borders to support more nationalistic economic motives, it’s essential that we don’t lose focus on the importance of global science.
Beyond satisfying our inherent human inquisitiveness about the world we live in, how we came to be, or what exactly this thing we call a universe is, science helps us tackle our common challenges. These include energy supply, food security, climate change, and a growing list of ailments like cancer, heart disease, dementia, and diabetes.
Global, collaborative efforts accelerate the rate of discovery of solutions to these challenges. Granted, there is always prestige and pride for a nation to be recognized for a key breakthrough, yet should we really care that a cure for Alzheimer’s disease was discovered by another nation? All of humanity will benefit from such a critical discovery, so isn’t the true race how fast we can collectively reach such a breakthrough?
When people ask me what I do, I tell them about the global high-speed network that connects all the scientists around the world to each other, and to the world’s major science instruments.
This global network supports data for research in all disciplines: physics, genomics, biology, ocean science, humanities, etc. When I tell them that I work for an organization that is best-known for supporting the Canadian contribution to this global network, they almost always ask why this is important – to which I respond with the message of this post:
humanity has some major challenges we need to address, and we all need to work together to solve them.
Having “world-class digital infrastructure” may sound like marketing jargon, but in fact, world-class infrastructure basically means that Canada has what it takes to let all Canadian researchers within government and academia be at the table with their global peers to solve these grand challenges.
In addition to world-class network infrastructure, we also need world-class research data management and storage practices that enable data to be shared globally. Providing our scientists with powerful computing resources and software tools enables them to take advantage of global datasets, via ultra-high-speed connections to other scientists.
There is too much at stake to not deal with these challenges immediately; we cannot afford to ignore them. Canadian researchers have so much to offer the world and while CANARIE itself is not on the front line of discovery, we are thankful to play a small part in enabling Canadians to work towards a healthy, sustainable and safe future for us all.