SMC Science Deadline: Climate talks, rising seas and SMC journalism fellow

By Sciencemediacentre.co.nz received 3 years ago

Categories: Science
Age: 19 until 30 year 31 until 64 years 65 and older
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Issue 354, 20 Nov 2015

In this issue:

Climate talks
Sea level rise
Journalism Fellow
Civics & Media
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.

Rena rehabilitation effective long-term
Shrinking glaciers perfect for penguins

Scant evidence for superbug-fighting tactics

How many female executives is too many female executives?

New from the SMC

  Briefing: Paris & climate talks   Expert Reaction: PCE calls for action on sea level rise
SMC Blog: Science Journalism Fellow bound for the Daily Mail

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

New from the SMC global network

  Expert Reaction: Blood glucose response to certain foods   Expert Reaction: New Cancer Drugs Fund system   Expert Reaction: Genetically engineered ‘AquAdvantage’ Salmon   Expert Reaction:Nurse Review of Research Councils
  Australian SMC
  Expert Reaction: Genetically modified salmon   Briefing: COP out or global triumph – can the climate talks in Paris succeed?   Expert Reaction: WA bushfire

Climate talks high on agenda

Despite the tragic attacks in Paris, the French capital is still to host the international negotiations aimed at keeping a warming climate in check.
The 21st UN Conference of the Parties, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
The meeting will officially start on the 30th November.
Ahead of the conference the Science Media Centre held a briefing with experts to lay out some of the key points, including the possible outcomes from the talks and the wider international context for why they where happening.
Prof Dave Frame, Director of Victoria University Wellington's Climate Change Research Centre, said that this negotiation round was "about widening participation in climate policy".
Asked about how New Zealand's efforts compare internationally, Prof Frame said New Zealand was not so far off the pace as to be embarrassed by the commitments signalled by the US and China.
“The analogy I use it that it is like a cycle race:  there are pelotons – groups of riders cycling together – and we are clearly in the front one, we aren’t way at the back.
“There are countries with massive fossil fuel subsidies, there are countries with very high emissions and very high emissions growth. There are countries like Singapore that are much wealthier than us but don’t intend to peak their emissions until 2030.”
Dr Suzi Kerr, Senior Research Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, explained that the ultimate goal was to "have zero net emissions of long lived gases" but noted that "every reduction we do along the way counts, because this is a cumulative problem."
She said a critical part of the solution for New Zealand would be getting the Emissions Trading System to work.
You can listen back to the full briefing online on the Science Media Centre website.

Policy news & developments

Death data: The Ministry of Health has released the latest data on registered deaths, publishing mortality and demographic data for the year 2012.
EPA annual report: The EPA has released its annual report, covering its fourth year of operation.
Predator plague: The Department of Conservation says it will be ready to meet a potential plague of rats and stoats threatening vulnerable native species as New Zealand faces another potential mast year.
Travel report: A new report from the Ministry of Transportcelebrates two and half decades of the NZ Household Travel Survey and collates its results.
Health stats: The Ministry of Health has released the Tier 1 statistics from the 2014/15 New Zealand Health Survey.

Planning for sea level rise

New Zealand needs to do more to prepare for the consequences of rising sea levels, warns the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in a new report.

Preparing New Zealand for rising seas: Certainty and Uncertainty, sees Commissioner Dr Jan Wright put forward eight recommendations aimed at developing a coherent action plan for dealing with the impacts of rising sea levels.
Those recommendations include:

Developing a National Policy Statement on addressing sea level rise Building consistency in the projections of sea level rise, mapping data and community engagement guidelines provided to local councils Establishing a working group to assess and prepare for the economic and fiscal implications of sea level rise.

“We must plan for sea level rise, but there is time to do it carefully”, Dr Wright said in media release. “There are a few cases where action is required soon, but in most cases it is more important to do it well than to rush.”

The new report follows an earlier report from the commissioner laying out the science underpinning the projected sea level rise for the future.

Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, welcomed the new report, noting that the document “makes the science on sea level rise accessible and highly relevant to New Zealanders”.
Detailed land elevation maps of areas vulnerable to sea level rise are available via the Commissioner's site here.

Dr Stephen Flood, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington's Climate Change Research Institute, said the Commissioner’s recommendations were well considered and based on a thorough analysis of relevant science and policy.

“As outlined in the scientific literature and this report, the public should be concerned about climate change induced sea level rise and the associated impacts on coastal flooding, erosion, and groundwater," he told the SMC.
You can read more expert commentary and listen to audio from the Commissioner's launch of the report on the SMC website.

Quoted: New Zealand Herald

"In the early days, many of the meetings were quite heated as people vented their outrage about the oil spill.
"Over time the public became increasingly well informed and grew interested in following the science behind the impact and the environmental recovery phases of the incident."
  Waikato University's chair of coastal science Professor Chris Battershill reflecting on winning the NZ Association of Scientists science communication award for his work in the wake of the Rena oil spill

SMC Fellow bound for Daily Mail

It's been a big year for the SMC's Science Journalism Fellow Steven Trask.

Not only did Steven finish his postgraduate journalism diploma at Massey University as the top student, but he has picked up a job working for the UK’s Daily Mail.

Steven spent the year putting his first class Honours science degree to good use as he worked on a wide range of science-related topics, including a front page feature for the Nelson Mail on the impacts of El Nino.

Steven will spend time at the Daily Mail’s Australian and English offices before taking up a reporting job as part of the Mail’s Australian bureau in Sydney.

“In all my years of presenting this award I have never known a student go straight from journalism school to that,” Dominion Post editor Bernadette Courtney remarked as she presented Steven the top graduate award, which comes with $1,000 in prize money and awards the student with the highest overall grades on the course.

Steven even found time to foster his sports reporting, taking out the Brian F O’Brien Memorial Prize in Sports Journalism in the process.

“It was great to come out of the course straight into a job,” said Steven.

“When the Mail interviewed me they asked what I did on the course. I said that, after a few lectures, we were sent out to find news.”
Passion for science

While work on the Daily Mail will see Steven cut his teeth as a general reporter, Steven’s passion for science-related subjects remains undiminished and he hopes to tackle science and health related stories where possible, an aim his new editors are keen to support.

A University of Otago graduate in genetics, Steven spent parts of the year on internships and a spell researching and writing science stories at the Science Media Centre.

His Nelson Mail internship saw him undertake a special on the impacts El Nino are likely to bring to the environment and to farmers over the summer. Other stories completed during the year focused on innovation and drug testing.

Science Journalism Fellowship

The SMC’s Science Journalism Fellowship aims to help a person with a science background undertake journalism training with a view to finding work in the New Zealand media.

While there are few full-time science reporters working in New Zealand, appetite for science-related stories in consumer affairs, health, environment, technology, weather and agriculture is strong.

“This Fellowship attracts a strong group of applicants each year,” says Science Media Centre Director, Peter Griffin.

“They are people keen to apply their scientific knowledge to communicating science to a wide audience. We want to help them do that.”

The Science Journalism Fellowship will assist a student with a science degree who is seeking to undertake a post-graduate diploma in journalism at an approved New Zealand journalism school in 2016. The Fellowship is valued at $2,000 and open to applicants to post graduate journalism qualifications offered at AUT University, Massey University and Canterbury University.

Full details about the Fellowship are available here. Applications are now open and close on January 20, 2016.

New from Sciblogs

Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:
Health system costs in NZ - Experts crunch the data to untangle the the 'costs of dying' vs the 'costs of ageing'.
Public Health Expert
Good urban policy makes for good refugee policy - Eric Crampton points to Huston, Texas as an example of humane housing policy.
Dismal Science
Evolution in our changing lands - Lynley Hargreaves talks to Prof Jon Waters about our evolving understanding of evolution.
Infrequently Asked Questions

Civics and Media: Looking out to 2030

A media levy on telecommunications service, compulsory voting, stronger civics education in the curriculum.
These were just some of the ideas floated yesterday at the third and final workshop in the Civics and Media Project, where a wide range of people from the media, civics, education and science looked at the question of how we ensure we have a civically engaged society in 2030.
30 ideas were put forward by ten speakers including NZ on Air Chief executive Jane Wrightson, Canterbury University journalism senior lecturer Tara Ross and microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles.
Those ideas and others from workshop attendees were pulled apart in the afternoon and presented in a final session. The next step will see the best of those ideas refined and developed as recommendations for a report that will be issued in the coming months.
The Civics and Media Project workshops were a joint initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Victoria University, the McGuinness Institute, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the University of Auckland.
All of the material from yesterday's workshop will be posted to the Civics and Media Project website over the next week. 
Victoria University's Dr Carwyn Jones on the soap box at the Civics and Media workshop in Wellington.

Upcoming events

Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details. Joint Conference for the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society and Australian Society for Limnology - 23-26 November, Lower Hutt.
  Geosciences 2015 Conference - 24-27 November, Wellington. The conference will have a theme focusing on Zealandia in Space and Time.
  Endocrine disruptors and human health - is there a problem? 23 November, Dunedin. Public Lecture with Profe Steve Safe (Texas A&M University).
  Pharmacoepidemiology Research Network Symposium - 25 November, Dunedin. Opportunity for researchers and others with an interest in drug safety and utilisation to present and discuss recent, current, and future work.
  Science Communicators' Association of New Zealand conference 2015 - 30 November - 1 December, Wellington. Conference themes are: engaging society & sharing knowledge.

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