A revista mensal britânica Physics World, publicação do Institute of Physics (IOP), organização dedicada ao progresso da Física, publicou no mês de maio uma matéria dedicada à crise na ciência brasileira. A reportagem é assinada pela jornalista Alicia Ivanissevich e traça um panorama dos recentes cortes no orçamento do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (MCTI) e o comprometimento de milhares de pesquisas no país. A reportagem traz análises do físico e professor da USP Paulo Artaxo, do presidente da ABC, Luiz Davidovich, e do diretor do Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncroton, Antonio José Roque da Silva. Confira a matéria na íntegra aqui ou abaixo:

Brazilian science faces swingeing cuts

A number of “big-science” projects in Brazil could be hit if the government pushes through a 44% cut to the R$5bn (£1.28bn) budget of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC). The government says that the reduction is needed to cover a R$58bn deficit in Brazils federal budget and to help the country overcome industrial recession and high unemployment. Brazils education ministry, which maintains all federal universities in the country, will see its budget halve, with individual states unable to pick up the slack due to the poor economic performance across the country.

The cuts to the MCTIC come after it had already lost around R$ 322m that was due to be allocated to”PAC” projects – a federal initiative to improve the countrys economic growth. “Given that the MCTIC has already been fused with the Ministry of Communications, the amount of money designated to science and technology has already been reduced,” says Brazilian atmospheric physicist Paulo Artaxo from the University of São Paulo. “The Brazilian science budget is now approximately 15% of what it was four years ago, while the science community has increased substantially. Without sufficient funds, an entire generation of young researchers in Brazil could be lost.”

Artaxo is president of the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment (LBA) – Na imagem o sensor de umidade e temperatura / Torre do Km 67, Santarém, PA – in Amazonia, which seeks to study the many ecosystems that exist in the Amazonian rainforest. He says that LBA projects have ground to a halt since last year, despite it having just finished building a 325 m-high observatory tower in collaboration with the Max Plank Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. “It is the best in its category on the planet,” Artaxosays. “However, we do not have sufficient funds to start research employing this platform, which is strategic not only for the project, but also tothe country.”

Luiz Davidovich, a physicist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro who is also president of the Brazilian Academy of Science, says the cuts to science threaten the payment of projects that have already received the go-ahead from federal agencies. “Labs that had received investments in the last decades have now put their activities on hold because they lack resources and cannot afford spare parts for equipment,” says Davidovich. “Those cuts and restraints represent a waste of public money that has already been spent.”

In a statement, the MCTIC says its finance department has been evaluating the impact of the cuts and the actions resulting from that analysis will be made public soon. “If the budget cuts are maintained, we may be risking the fulfilment of the idea conveyed by the title of the famous book by the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” adds Davidovich.

Antonio José Roque da Silva, director of Brazils National Synchrotron Light Laboratory, says that it is still too soon to predict the consequences of the cuts. “The [government budget] does not stipulate which topics should suffer the cuts, but it is likely to affect the MCTIC as a whole,” says da Silva, a physicist whose lab is building Sirius – an advanced, fourth-generation synchrotron light source. “It will be up to the ministry whether or not to prioritize the PAC projects, which includes Sirius.”