Science Deadline - This Week in Sci-Tech
Sea level rise even with Paris
A new study suggests that even if all nations manage to stick to their Paris Agreement targets, we're still committed to global sea level rise.
Published this week in Nature Communications, the German-led research estimated sea level rise of 0.7 to 1.2 metres by 2300 assuming the Paris targets were achieved.
They also estimated an additional 20 centimetres of sea level rise would be added for every five-year delay in mitigation efforts past 2020 - the year in which the first five-yearly stocktake would occur.
Victoria University of Wellington's Professor Tim Naish said the results were not surprising, as they aligned with recent studies showing the thermal inertia in the ocean and Antarctic ice sheets would result in sea level rise over the coming centuries "even if net zero emissions are achieved by the end of the century".
"Emissions must peak as soon as possible," said Naish, director of the Antarctic Research Centre. "Followed by aggressive reduction to zero emissions well before the end of the century, if we are to significantly reduce the risk of extreme sea-level rise associated with rapid collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet".
Professor Dave Frame - director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, also based at Victoria University of Wellington - said the study was a "great example of how delays to mitigation can make the costs of climate change add up".
"I don’t think arguments about sea-level rise are anything like a game-changer, because if people aren’t prepared to mitigate on behalf of their children, whom they love, it’s hard to see how information about people 300 years away will do more to alter their behaviour."
The SMC gathered expert reaction to the study.
"When I first visited Tuvalu, I saw people increasing the height of sea walls because salt water was ruining their pulaka crops and drinking water. The scary part? That was 25 years ago.
"Climate change has been creeping up on us for decades, and it is now racing ahead so fast some people don’t know if we can stop it. I believe, if we work together, we can. To think otherwise is to give up."
Victoria University of Wellington Associate Professor Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban
writing about the Pacific Climate Change Conference held in Wellington this week.
Introducing our new Director
As the Science Media Centre gears up to mark a decade of working at the heart of science and media, it also looks to the future with new leadership.
Dacia Herbulock will take over as the new director of the Centre on March 26. A former documentary maker and radio journalist for RNZ, Dacia is currently the SMC’s senior media advisor and runs our Science Media SAVVY science communication training programme.
She has been with the Science Media Centre since it started operations in June 2008 and since then has played an integral role in the SMC’s development – from our Expert Reaction round-ups of commentary on breaking news stories to our successful media training workshops for Māori researchers run in partnership with Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.
Over the years I’ve hugely valued Dacia’s sharp analytical mind, deep understanding of research and ability to keep projects on track. These will be hugely valuable skills as the SMC enters its second decade and adapts to meet the needs of the rapidly-evolving media and the growing demands on experts to communicate their research.
Dacia will be presenting at PCST2018, the leading international conference for science communicators, being held in Dunedin April 3 – 6.
Policy news & developments
Kauri tracks closed: Auckland Council's Environment and Community Committee has voted to close all forested areas within the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park and high-risk tracks in kauri lands of the Hunua Ranges to increase protection against kauri dieback.
Chief scientist resigns: Jacqueline Rowarth has resigned from her role as EPA's chief scientist.
Warning over joint supplement: Medsafe has issued a warning for people taking the dietary supplement Arthrem after 14 people between February 2016 and December 2017 were reported to have harm to their liver.
Stink bug measures: MPI has introduced new measures to reduce the risk of brown marmorated stink bugs arriving in vehicles from Japan following a spike in the number of stink bugs intercepted at the border.
No sign of a cat on Gulf islands: Two conservation dogs deployed to search Rangitoto and Motutapu have found no sign of a cat on the predator-free islands.
GMO cancer treatment go-ahead: The EPA has approved a genetically modified virus, Telomelysin, to be used as part of a clinical trial of patients with advanced and inoperable melanoma.
Mouse monitoring begins: Monitoring has
begun on the Antipodes Island to find out if the 2016 mouse
eradication programme was successful.
Changes coming for NZ media
Two big media announcements were made this week, involving both major newspaper companies.
Stuff Ltd, the recently-renamed NZ branch of Fairfax Media, announced on Wednesday that it would look to sell or close 28 of its community and rural papers over the next six months, which could affect 60 jobs.
Some of those titles include NZ Farmer, NZ Dairy Farmer, the Kaikōura Star and the Christchurch Mail.
Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher said digital revenues were strong and were providing "some offset to ongoing print advertising challenges, however we need to continue to act decisively in transitioning our business model into an increasingly digital business".
NZME chief executive Michael Boggs announced on Thursdaythat the company would implement a paywall on its premium online content. The subscription model would be on the market this year, he said.
Earlier this month, NZME and Fairfax announced their intention to appeal the High Court's decision to decline the two companies' NZ merger.
Fairfax Media Australia's chief executive Greg Hywood said the company had warned its New Zealand business would go into "consolidation mode" if the Commerce Commission did not approve the merger.