Climate Change Statement from the Royal Society of New Zealand

As you may have seen from the energy and climate change links in the left-hand column of this blog, these are areas I’m keenly interested in. At present, there’s a well-funded campaign which is attempting to convince New Zealanders that climate change is not a threat, or if it is, that the threat is remote. The purpose of that campaign is to dissuade politicians from taking any action on the issue: in particular, any action which would hit the big greenhouse gas emitters, such as agriculture and heavy industry, in the bottom line.

This campaign of denial has had such notable successes as getting the Listener’s environmental columnist removed when he started to question who was paying the climate sceptics’ bills.

I’m therefore pleased that the Royal Society of New Zealand has released a statement setting out the basic facts about climate change in a clear, non-technical way. The Introduction to the statement says:

The globe is warming because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Measurements show that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are well above levels seen for many thousands of years. Further global climate changes are predicted, with impacts expected to become more costly as time progresses. Reducing future impacts of climate change will require substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

The rest of the statement goes on to lay on the evidence underpinning this statement. It’s the perfect reading matter for climate change sceptics who are still prepared to listen to reason.

2008 Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing

I received the following email yesterday from the Royal Society. The inaugural Manhire Prize competition was held in 2007, and you can read the fiction and non-fiction winners online.

This year’s topic is evolution. The Royal Society says:

We encourage you to enter the 2008 Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing. The theme for 2008 is evolution, in honour of Charles Darwin.

Next year is the 150th anniversary of his birth, and the 200th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. But it was on 1 July 1858, the joint Wallace-Darwin paper was read to the Linnaean Society, and was thus launched to the science community.

The topic you are asked to respond to is:

“The Universe makes rather an indifferent parent, I’m afraid,” said Dickens’ kindly Mr Jarndyce. Humans have evolved to understand and intervene in the unsentimental processes of nature. With some unfortunate and unintended consequences. Back to nature or on to the future?

Remember, there are fiction and non fiction categories, prizes of $2500 for each, and the winning entries will be published in the New Zealand Listener. Entries close 15 August, 2008. For full details see the Listener just out, or go to

If you have any enquiries, call Glenda Lewis, 04 470 5758, or email glenda.lewis (at)