SMC Science Deadline: Climate talks' home stretch, Capital SAVVY and 'ignorant' NZ

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Categories: Science
Age: 19 until 30 year 31 until 64 years 65 and older
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Issue 355, 11 Dec 2015

In this issue:

Climate stretch
Index of Ignorance
Policy updates
New from the SMC

Quick Links

SMC Alerts
Media Registration
About us
Contact the SMC
Top news from scimex.org  the Science Media Centre's news sharing platform.

Study suggests source of snakes' slippery stomachs

NZers struggle to cough up for essential meds

Happy? Unhappy? We're all going to die

Milk the muscle-builder

'No-drill' dentistry stops tooth decay

New from the SMC

In the News: Penultimate draft released at COP21   In the News: The latest from COP21   Expert Reaction: 1.5°C limit still on the table at climate negotiations   In the News: Climate conference continues   In the News: Poll highlights NZer’s misconceptions

  Applications still open for Wellington two-day workshop in Feb 2016
Apply Here

New from the SMC global network

  Expert Reaction: Draft agreement in Paris   Expert Reaction: Antidepressants vs CBT for severe depression   Expert Reaction: Molecule may remove amyloid plaques in mice   Expert Reaction: Report cites mental health as main cause of perinatal death   Expert Reaction: Review on antimicrobial resistance
Australian SMC
Expert Reaction: Australian Federal Government’s Innovation Statement   Expert Reaction: C-section and asthma risk   Expert Reaction: Federal Government‘s Mental Health Plan

Home stretch for climate talks

Negotiations are expected to go down to the wire as the deadline looms for an international climate agreement.
The latest draft of the climate agreement in Paris has just been published this morning (NZT).

The debate over whether to aim for limiting global temperatures to a rise of 1.5 or 2 degrees has been apparently settled, with the new text stating an objective to: hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, recognizing that this would significantly reduce risks and impacts of climate change.
Negotiators are now heading into closed overnight meetings in Paris, aiming to further wrestle with points of contention, including how much financial support should be given to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change and the relative roles of developed and developing nations.

The deadline for an agreed text is Saturday, but there is a possibility negotiations will continue through the weekend.
Speaking to RNZ earlier, New Zealand's climate change minister Tim Groser said:

"My political sense is that everybody wants a deal and I'm not sure that was the case in Copenhagen, so it looks like chaos but I think I'd call it organised chaos.

"At the end of the day we're not going to sit down in a room and negotiate a text. What is going on is a giant game of sending signals to the French, who are holding the pen to allow them to make some very fine balancing judgements about the sweet spot on some of the big issues."

You can check out the week's news and expert reaction on the Science Media Centre site.
Also visit Sciblogs for comment and analysis on climate change and COP21

Peak Emissions?

In the midst of the negotiations this week new research indicated carbon emissions will fall in 2015.

This drop in emissions is a turnaround from the more than 2 per cent growth seen on average for the previous decade. It also comes at a time when the world is experiencing global economic expansion, unlike the previous emissions drop which coincided with the global financial crisis.

The findings come from the Global Carbon Budget, an annual report of carbon dioxide emissions incorporating data from multiple research institutes from around the world. It was published in the journal Earth System Science Data, with a commentary from the authors also being published in Nature Climate Change.

“This paper offers some very exciting results and prospects for the future," Prof James Renwick from Victoria University of Wellington, told the SMC. 
"After decades of ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and at a time when we need some real action on climate change, this paper is very welcome news indeed – if it really indicates a long-term shift."
Read more expert commentary from the SMC here.

Kiwi delegates go viral

In other news, two New Zealand youth delegates, Ryan Mearns and Hamish Laing, have been maintaining a Google doc documenting as much of the negotiations as possible, sneaking in humorous GIFs and hashtags.
Their efforts having been receiving accolades from international online media, including Buzzfeed, Slate and Vice.
Laing told Slate magazine,“we want to provide transparency to this process and recognize many people are not able to be here at the negotiations. It’s also very useful for people here at [the climate talks] who are in different meetings as there is so much going on at the same time.”

How well do you know NZ?

New Zealanders are pretty unaware of the state of their country, according to a new poll that has ranked us as the worst developed nation in an ‘Index of Ignorance’.

Credit: Ipsos MORI. Click to enlarge.

The Ipsos MORI Perils of Perception survey highlights how wrong the public across 33 countries are about some key issues and features of the population in their country.

The survey is based on questions about statistics in a respondent’s home country, for example asking ‘What proportion of the country do you think…

have access to the internet?’ are overweight or obese?’ are immigrants?’

The answers were compared to the actual figures and overall scores for each country were compiled into an ‘Index of Ignorance.’ New Zealand ranked fifth worst overall in the Index and was the worst of the developed nations included in the survey.
For example, Kiwi's polled in the survey thought about 47 percent of the population was overweight or obese, when in fact the actual figure is 66 percent. New Zealanders also overestimated the number of immigrants;  respondents guessed 37 percent of the population was born overseas, but the actual proportion is 25 percent.

For those who are curious, you can take the quiz here and see how well you know the make up of New Zealand.

The survey has been widely covered in New Zealand. You can read collated media coverage on the Science Media Centre website.

Policy news & developments

Health snapshot: The Annual Health Survey has been published by the Ministry of Health documenting health behaviours and access to health services.
Maternity report: The Ministry of Health has released its 2014 maternity report, covering all births in New Zealand last year.
Healthy lives: The Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, which aims to reduce the financial burden of major health problems, was launched this week.
Vehicle discussion: The Ministry of Transport has is seeking submissions on proposed changes to vehicle size and weight regulations.
Invasion eradicated: MPI has confirmed the successful eradication of Queensland fruit fly in Auckland, but is warning the public to stay on high alert this summer.
Marsden appointment: Emeritus Professor Carolyn Burns has joined the Marsden Council and will convene the Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour Panel.
Wool R&D boost: The Government will invest $8.4 million over in a research partnership to develop 'New Uses for Wool.'

Quoted: Otago Daily Times

"I can tell you Queenstown's bad this year as well, just by personal sneezing."
  University of Otago Emeritus Prof Blair Fitzharris believes El Nino may be boosting hay fever incidence.

Science Media SAVVY Wellington

The Science Media SAVVY workshop is returning to the capital in February.

Our next two-day Science Media SAVVY course will be held in Wellington on on the 18-19 February 2016.
Science Media SAVVY workshops are designed to increase researchers’ confidence and skills and help them engage more effectively with the wider public through the media.
Participants gain firsthand insight into the media landscape and learn practical techniques to improve communication, deal with nerves, adapt their message to their audience and respond effectively when an interview becomes challenging. Highlights include a behind-the-scenes newsroom tour and Q&A panel with journalists.
Established, active researchers with previous media experience, and those likely to attract media interest in future, are especially encouraged to apply.


Help us spread the word: download a flyer for your department or notice board.

New from Sciblogs

Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:
Is promoting R&D New Zealand’s path to prosperity? Michael Reddell gives a scathing analysis of a recent innovation conference in Wellington.
Dismal Science
Genetic modification now accepted by most NZers: Where once 92 percent of Kiwis opposed genetic engineering to now 80 percent accept it, writes Grant Jacobs.
Code for Life
1.5 to stay alive: From Paris, Cindy Baxter covers the big issues for small countries as climate talks get down to the nitty gritty.
Hot Topic

Upcoming events

Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details.
  The Art of Bioengineering - 15-19 December, Auckland. Exhibition featuring images inspired by the latest research work.
  Curiosity doesn't kill the cat - 15 December, Dunedin. Inaugural Professorial Lecture lecture by Physics Professor David Hutchinson.
  Standing on the Shoulders of Midgets: Dominant Firms and Innovation Incentives - 17 December, Christchurch. UC Department of Economics and Finance public lecture with Prof Luís Cabral, NYU.

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