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Science policy newsletter
Science policy newsletter
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published its report on The Culture of Scientific Ethics. The focus of the study was the ethical implications of the current culture of scientific research, focused on particular concerns: competition; funding of research; assessment of research; research integrity; and career progression and workload. Suggestions for action are summarised as follows:
- Publication of a wide range of rigorous research
- Openness and data sharing between researchers
- Use of a broad range of criteria in research assessments
- Recognition of the wider activities of researchers
- Training and recognition for peer reviewers
- Adoption of diverse funding approaches
- Clear communication of funding opportunities and assessment criteria
RESEARCH GOVERNANCE AND INTEGRITY
- Training in good research practice
- Openness about consequences of misconduct
- Adoption of appropriate ethical review processes
- Mentoring and career advice
- Adoption of employment practices that support diversity and inclusion
- Training and recognition for leaders in research
Defra has produced Biodiversity 2020: a strategy for England's wildlife and ecosystem services Indicators in December 2014, an assessment of trends of improvement and deterioration for key indicators. In summary, there are 48 individual measures that make up 24 indicators. A mixed picture of short and long term improvement and deterioration.
Papers in Science and Nature:
- Governments have a responsibility to develop and resource resilience strategies
- Governments should act together at the international level to build resilience; sharing expertise, co-ordinating policy and pooling resources to confront common risks
- To limit the need for costly disaster responses, more national and international funds will need to be directed to measures that build resilience to extreme weather
- The purpose, design and implementation of policy frameworks covering climate change, disaster risk reduction and development should be aligned and consistent regarding extreme weather
- Those who make and implement policies need to take practical measures to protect people and their assets from extreme weather.
- The risks posed by extreme weather need to be better accounted for in the wider financial system, in order to inform valuations and investment decisions and to incentivise organisations to reduce their exposure
- Information about extreme weather should be suitable for users’ needs. Funders should encourage collaborations and ongoing dialogue between producers and users of knowledge
- Research to improve the understanding of risks from current weather and to model accurately future climate change impacts should be increased to provide relevant information for decision-makers, particularly at regional and local levels.
UNEP-WCMC produced in July 2014 a report Towards a Global Map of Natural Capital. It gives an overview of the global perspective and maps for:
- terrestrial carbon;
- soil quality for plant growth using maize as a reference crop;
- terrestrial biodiversity (species richness adjusted by intactness);
- marine biodiversity (species richness across 13 taxa); and
- marine global fish catch
together with a composite map that integrates these elements. Looking forward, the ambition is to increase the number of measures of natural capital, and to attempt to analyse changes over time.
Dickson, B., Blaney, R. Miles, L., Regan, E., van Soesbergen, A.,Väänänen, E., Blyth, S., Harfoot, M. Martin, C.S., McOwen, C., Newbold, T., van Bochove, J. (2014). Towards a global map of natural capital: key ecosystem assets. UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya.
The Arts Council (ACE) published a report in July 2014 on Understanding the value and impacts of cultural experiences, commissioned from WolfBrown. This report is a broad international literature review that deals with language and concepts; measuring individual impacts; valuing arts and culture from the marketing perspective; and creative capacity of an organization. Value is discussed in terms of economic, social and public value, with a primary emphasis on the arts - the broader interest of the humanities and sciences don't seem to be part of scope.
This follows the ACE review earlier in 2014 of The value of arts and culture to people and society. This was an evidence review, looking at economy; health and wellbeing; society; and education, together with gaps in evidence and needs for future research.
Also interesting is the current work of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value which has developed discussion and evidence to ask "what kinds of investment do we need to ensure the future of culture and how can we work to ensure that all forms of culture are inclusive and accessible for all?"
The UK House of Commons Energy and Climate Change committee has produced a report on its inquiry on the IPCC 5th Assessment WG1 contribution (physical science).
The inquiry concluded that WG1's message - that greenhouse gas release from deforestation and fossil fuel use has caused much of the climate change of the late 20th Century and will continue to drive warming if unabated - was "the best available summary of the prevailing scientific opinion on climate change currently available to policy-makers. Its conclusions have been reached with high statistical confidence by a working group made up of many of the world’s leading climate scientists drawing on areas of well-understood science. The overall thrust and conclusions of the report are widely supported in the scientific community and its summaries are presented in a way that is persuasive to the lay reader. As in all areas of science that involve highly complex dynamic systems, there are uncertainties. But these uncertainties do not blur the overwhelmingly clear picture of a climate system changing as a result of human influence."
The inquiry said that IPCC had responded well to criticism and had tightened its review processes to make AR5 "the most exhaustive and heavily scrutinised Assessment Report to date". However, the committee suggested an increase in the level of transparency by involving non-climate scientists as observers through the whole process. The committee said that "the thousands of peer-reviewed academic papers ...together form a clear and unambiguous picture of a climate that is being dangerously destabilised".