Newsletter Digest: Copenhagen, In Memoriam

Down to the wire for carbon deal

Climate negotiators and heads of states will reconvene in a few hours with the aim of removing the hundreds of square brackets from a draft emissions reduction agreement.

If the first week of the COP15 meetings was dominated by the split between the developed and developing nations, week two hasn’t been much better, despite the optimistic rhetoric of everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Robert Mugabe to our own Prime Minister John Key.

A rare show of unity came when New Zealand took a lead role in announcing a $200 million global fund for researching methods of reducing agricultural emissions.

Negotiations are likely to stretch well into the weekend. The SMC will be wrapping up reaction from scientists to any official announcements from COP15 on agreement as soon as possible.

In Memoriam: Peter Read, scientist and biochar expert

Peter ReadOne of the scientists who has provided valuable insight for SMC alerts in 2009 was Massey University’s Dr Peter Read.

Sadly, Dr Read passed away in late November as he was preparing for a trip to Copenhagen to observe the climate negotiations. Our condolences go to his family, friends and colleagues.

Dr Read was a vocal advocate of biochar as a method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One of his last columns on the subject was published in the Guardian in March.

Biggest science stories of 2009

It is no surprise really when you add up all the science-related stories published this year in the New Zealand media that the issues drawing the most coverage were the swine flu pandemic and climate change.

But what is interesting, is how the quality of coverage of the biggest science stories of the year varied. Check out the SMC Media Tracker covering the period since the SMC launched on July, 2008 to September 30, 2009. While you are at it, check out our Annual Review for 2009 to get a flavour of what the SMC was up to during the year.

We will be continuously tracking coverage in the NZ media by keyword and publishing the results monthly from January – the first regular survey of science coverage in the New Zealand media.

SMC activities over the holidays

The Science Media Centre will be taking a short break over the Christmas holiday with the centre shutting down at noon on December 23 and opening again on Monday January 4th.

However, we will be on standby and contactable over the Christmas break if a major science-related issue emerges. Contact Peter Griffin if you have an urgent query and look out for a couple of silly season science releases from the SMC in the New Year.

Thanks for all your interest in the SMC this year and your valued support. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday and we look forward to working with you again in 2010.Christmas baubles green

Peter Griffin
SMC Manager