SMC Science Deadline: Environment report card, childhood obesity and Te Ara staff sign off

By Sciencemediacentre.co.nz received 3 years ago

Categories: Science
Age: 19 until 30 year 31 until 64 years 65 and older
  • Html
  • Text
View email in browser
Issue 350,  23 Oct 2015

In this issue:

Environment Report
Obesity plan
Te Ara signs off 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.

Emperor penguins' superpacked down jackets

Poo transplants better than drugs

Pumas' Tinder-like tactics revealed

Aus & NZ road deaths in WHO road safety report

New from the SMC

In the News: Environment ‘report card’   Reflections: Why do governments support research? – Sir Peter Gluckman   Expert Reaction: State of the Environment report   In the News: Weighing up Govt childhood obesity plan   Expert Reaction: Childhood obesity plan   SMC Blog: Where is the media going?

  Applications open for Auckland and Wellington two-day workshops
Apply Here


New from the SMC global network

Expert Reaction: UK energy policy report
Expert Reaction: Sugar reduction report
Expert Reaction: Results from the loophole-free Bell test   Expert Reaction: Ebola patient Pauline Cafferkey   Q&A: Ebola virus persistence   Expert Reaction: Confirmed Hinkley Point nuclear power deal   Expert Reaction: Airport proximity and respiratory and cardiac health
Australian SMC
Briefing: Industrial waste and orange peel can safely scrub the oceans of mercury

Report card for environment

An overarching 'state of the environment' report - the first in eight years - has reiterated many of our environmental shortcomings as well as a few success stories.

The report Environment Aoteoroa 2015 was jointly launched by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand this week. The document draws together the most reliable and up-to-date data covering five 'domains': air, atmosphere and climate, fresh water, land, and marine.
An infographic covering some of the key statistics in the report. Click to enlarge. Ministry for the Environment.
Freshwater quality and greenhouse gas emissions were two of the areas showing negative environmental trends. According to the report, New Zealand's emissions grew by 42 percent since 1990 and nitrogen levels in rivers increased by 12 percent over the same period.

However Environment Aotearoa also detailed positive changes.  Air quality has improved, largely driven by regulations on home heating, and there has been a documented decrease in sea lion and seal bycatch in commercial fishing.
The report acknowledged that it was thin on covering data specifically relevant to Māori environmental issues, but noted that further work was under way to develop better measures in areas such as the  state of taonga species and mahinga kai (food gathering sites).
Dr Marie Brown, a senior policy analyst at the Environmental Defence Society, told the SMC the the report should prompt policy innovation.
“Ample justification in the figures exists for strong and effective environmental bottom lines for freshwater management, robustly addressing our carbon emissions, investing in the protection of indigenous biodiversity through protection, management and restoration," she said.
Dr Joanne Clapcott, a freshwater ecologist at the Cawthron Institute who contributed to one of the report's advisory groups, said the freshwater data was robust.

“The message is not new but it is very clear – New Zealand rivers and streams continue to be negatively impacted by agricultural intensity,” she told the SMC.
You can read more expert commentary and a round up of national news coverage on the Science Media Centre website.

Policy news & developments

Electric vehicles: The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has launched an online tool to help consumers evaluate the benefits and costs of electric vehicles.
Health plan: The Government will be consulting with the sector and the public on the draft updated New Zealand Health Strategy, starting next week.
MPI report: The Office of the Auditor General has published a report examining progress in the Ministry for Primary Industries' biosecurity systems.
Citizen science: The Government is providing a grant of $130,000 from the Community Environment Fund to support citizen participation in scientific research on environment monitoring and restoration.
Hazardous substances: The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has created its first EPA Notice, allowing for the collection of information about those importing and manufacturing hazardous substances. 
Innovation declaration: Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has welcomed the signing of the OECD Ministerial Declaration on Science, Technology and Innovation Policies for the Global and Digital Age

Obesity plan targets kids

Doctor referrals, nutrition guidance and sports programmes are just some of the features of a new Government plan to lower childhood obesity rates. But will it work?
On Monday the Ministry of Health unveiled its Childhood Obesity Plan, a package of 22 new and updated initiatives tackling the issue of child obesity from a range of angles.
Latest data show that one in nine Kiwi kids are obese and a further two are overweight. Childhood obesity, warns the Ministry, is associated with a wide range of health conditions and increased risk of premature onset of illness.
At the centre of the new plan is the target to have 95 percent of children identified as obese in the B4 School Check referred to an appropriate health professional for clinical assessment and family based nutrition, activity and lifestyle interventions.
Other targeted programmes in the plan include: providing information about weight gain to pregnant mothers, encouraging voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labelling, reviewing industry codes around food advertising and supporting sport initiatives in schools.
The Science Media Centre collected reaction from New Zealand experts, a number of whom expressed disappointment that the plan had not followed the recommendations of a recent WHO report on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO), which included stronger regulations on food advertising and taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages.
“The government’s plan has a few positive new strategies, but it is a watery, timid rendition of the ECHO report,” said Boyd Swinburn a Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at the University of Auckland.

Barry Taylor, Dean of the Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, told the SMC the support for children and families of unhealthy weight is very welcome, but warned that "some initiatives have not got a good evidence base behind them and the use of a target which is a process [doctors referrals] rather than a health outcome is questionable."

He was also disappointed that regulation of advertising of unhealthy foods to children was not not being regulated.

You can read more expert commentary and collated news coverage on the Science Media Centre website.
Another report, published yesterday by UK health body Public Health England, reviewed the available evidence regarding sugar reduction and also backed a tax on sugar sweetened beverages and stronger regulations on marketing food children.

Quoted: Stuff.co.nz

"The science behind it is furiously complex"
  Ligar chief executive Nigel Slaughter, describes their filtering system which uses molecularly imprinted polymer beads.

Te Ara editorial team signs off

Editors tasked with updating and maintaining the popular online encyclopaedia have stopped work on the site, which historians worry will become an outdated resource.

After nearly ten years of publishing comprehensive open-access articles on a wide range of topics, including many on science and natural history, the Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand will cease to have dedicated editoral support.
Posting on the Te Ara blog,  senior Te Ara editor Nancy Swarbrick wrote that along with the four other staff who had been working on the site for the last year, her contract would end "in a few days".
"We’ve been very busy over the past twelve months developing new processes and ways of working, and getting our heads around the multitude of jobs that have to be done to keep the site reliable, useful and engaging for the many people who refer to it each day."
The site will still be accessible and be the responsibility of the research and publishing group of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.
But commenting on the Science Communicators' forum, former Te Ara science editor, Simon Nathan, wrote that the ministry had "higher priorities for funding".
"Such a big and complex site needs constant maintenance, and it is devastating to anticipate its gradual decline," he wrote.


New from Sciblogs

Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:
Oh Canada! The muzzle is coming off scientists - Canadian scientists and journalists will be breathing a sigh of relief this week with the change of government in Canada, writes Peter Griffin.
Griffins Gadgets
On being wrong - It is important to be wrong sometimes, advises Michael Corballis as he recounts some of his own academic errors.
Mind Matters
Meet the new must-have pet - The 'sea bunny' sea slug is a hot contender for Victoria Metcalf's pet affections.
Ice Doctor
Science blog survey: Victoria Metcalf is also seeking respondents for a incentivised survey of Ice Doctor readers as part of research with Paige Brown Jarreau.

Upcoming events

Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details. Civics and Media Project workshop - 27 October, Auckland. The second in a series of workshops looking at what the media will look like in 2030. Food Structures, Digestion and Health - 28-30 October, Wellington. The conference brings together food industry professionals and world leading scientists aiming to deliver better nutrition and improves consumer wellbeing. 6th International Conference on Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering (6ICEGE) - 1-4 November, Christchurch. Conference covering engineering works and research related to earthquake geotechnical engineering.

This email was sent to newsletter@newslettercollector.com
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
SMC NZ · 11 Turnbull St · Thorndon · Wellington, Wellington 6014 · New Zealand

Share this newsletter on


Related newsletters

© 2019