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The diatom known as rock snot has sparked efforts to stop its spread.

The diatom known as rock snot has sparked efforts to stop its spread.

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'Rock snot' study triggers the interview request from hell

Max Bothwell is an expert on the nuisance algae didymo, also known as rock snot. And when he first published an article online about the origins of the algae this past May, a reporter with the Canadian Press, a news agency, asked to interview him. But Bothwell works for the government agency Environment Canada, and the interview request got bogged down in bureaucracy. Really bogged down. 

In all, 16 public affairs people in various agencies wrote a total of 110 pages of e-mails, according to records acquired through a freedom of information request by the enterprising and presumably fairly frustrated reporter. The minders were busy dealing with “agreed answers” that Bothwell would be allowed to give and an “approved interview script.” But they didn’t get the interview approved by deadline.

One of the e-mails suggests why the interview was considered politically sensitive. It states: “Blooms are the result of global climate change factors.”

The report comes amid an ongoing controversy over steps taken by the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to regulate public comments by government scientists.