The December 2006 edition of Environment and Nature in New Zealand leads with a controversial opinion piece by Associate Professor Chris de Freitas on climate change. Given the current public discussion about this subject and the New Zealand Government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions, de Freitas’ comment that governments should instead listen to climate scientists ‘who do not indulge in doomladen conjecture’ comes as a timely reminder about the need for robust science in this country. His emphatic belief that such scientists are calm and unbiased, unlike ‘hardline environmental groups’ and adherents of Kyoto, may surprise many of our readers. De Freitas’ perspective has, in the past, caused considerable controversy. His editorial handling of a much criticised article in Climate Research in 2003 which was seized on by the present Bush Administration resulted in the resignation of the editor-in-chief and three other members of the editorial board.
As Francis Reid reminds us, the nexus of science, media and government has always been important and may be blinding government officials working on climate policy, as well as historians of science who have neglected the role of newspapers in informing scientific opinion in the nineteenth century. His examination of the newspaper clipping as an object of natural history claims to develop historiography on scientific expertise in the colonial context, as well as to sound a note of caution about the way scientific results are reported on.
Kate Hunter reports on the one-day, cross-sector, trans-Tasman conference on water held at Victoria University in October, showing that, ‘on the ground’, water management policy in parts of Australia and New Zealand is working in crisis management mode. She emphasises the value of communities developing relationships with ‘their’ bodies of water as a means to limiting a purely extractive and therefore destructive mindset. Where environmental scientists have identified major problems with flow, erosion and species depopulation, policy changes have helped create a climate of incentives for communities to respond positively.
Many thanks to our contributors,