Newsletter Digest: Stern lectures, food insecurity, NZ energy, and new blogs

Lord SternStern talk on climate change

British economist Nicholas Stern will bring his “get serious” message on climate change to New Zealand next week, when he undertakes a lecture series hosted by the University of Auckland.

Lord Stern is best known for the 2006 Stern Review, a 700 page document commissioned by the UK Government that is one of the most in-depth economic reports on climate change.

This week in Australia, Lord Stern described the Copenhagen climate negotiations held last December as “cold, chaotic and quarrelsome”, but said the meeting wasn’t a total disaster as the Copenhagen Accord hastily agreed to at the end of the conference covers 85% of world emissions.

Lord Stern’s message, delivered in lectures and interviews around the world, is that the benefits of early and strong action on climate change considerably outweigh the costs.

If you are a journalist looking to bone up on Stern’s economics research in relation to climate change ahead of his visit, a good resource is this BBC special report on the key points of the Stern Review.

IPCC overhaul recommended

Lord Stern’s arrival follows the release this week of a report by the InterAcademy Council which represents a number of the world’s science academies and has been scrutinising the workings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IAC report has called for some major changes to the way the panel is governed and the way checks are made on the veracity of scientific claims made in the panel’s reports.

Local scientists who have contributed to IPCC reports welcomed the changes proposed by the IAC.

Said Professor Martin Manning, Director of the Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University:

“The key points in this report are that governments should now reform the IPCC management structure and that assessment of the science does need to meet very high standards because climate change has major implications.”

Full reaction from New Zealand scientists can be accessed on the Science Media Centre website.

Lord Stern – Managing the risks of climate change, overcoming world poverty and creating a new era of growth and prosperity: The challenges for global collaboration and rationality – 8-10 September – Auckland/Wellington – Over the lecture series, Lord Stern will outline what he considers as the two defining challenges of this century-managing climate change and overcoming world poverty. Details here.

Energy strategy under scrutiny

Public submissions closed yesterday on the Government’s draft energy strategy as experts weighed in to critique the goals outlined in the report.

Audio from a Science Media Centre briefing featuring Tim Davin, Director of Policy at IPENZ and Associate Professor Bob Lloyd, Director of Energy Studies Programme at the Department of Physics, University of Otago can be played back here.

Energy will also be the subject of a conference in Wellington next week. Keynote speaker Dr Ruth Mourik from the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands will headline an agenda looking at everything from the potential for geothermal energy in New Zealand to clean technology development.

Three new blogs on Sciblogs platform

Big changes afoot at Sciblogs, the country’s largest science blogging network, with the arrival of numerous new scientists.

Jess Dykstra, a PhD student at the University of Canterbury’s Natural Hazards Research Centre, puts his experience field-researching natural hazards in Fiordland, British Columbia and Alaska to good use in Shaken Not Stirred, his blog on natural hazards and how to prepare the population for them.He kicks off with a series on the unprecedented flooding in Pakistan.

Chris McDowall, an informatics researcher working at Landcare Research looks at data visualisation from a science perspective in his blog Seeing Data. His first post looks at the compelling reasons for visualising data.

Finally we also welcome Dr Peter Dearden and fellow bloggers from Genetics Otago, who will be blogging under the Southern Genes banner. Check out their first post The Joy that Follows Sex!, and followup post Are you descended from Neanderthals?.

Herald Online syndication – You’ll also find Sciblogs content now featured on the Herald Online in a new section The Changing World, which is the result of a tie-up between the Herald and AUT. The section aggregates science and technology-related stories from across the Herald website. Check it out!

100 newsletters: what’s next?

It seems like only yesterday that we decided to start our weekly Heads-Up, aimed at scientists, journalists and key stakeholders.

Intended to update people on both the science-related happenings of the last week, as well as giving a pointer to what could become news in the upcoming week, the newsletter now reaches over 1,100 people all over New Zealand and internationally.

We want to continue to provide a useful service in the coming months and years, so please, if you have any suggestions, drop us a line.  In the meantime, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading this – we’ve certainly enjoyed writing it!