Science

New Zealand loses focus on science to its detriment, and the world's

This is not a column on global warming, climate change or whether humans are or aren’t having an impact.

We're obese. We know it and we know about the risks of junk food, poverty and mothers' diets. But if we think organic food can cut our obesity rate, we could be swallowing a whole lot of dodgy – and costly – ideas

The headline in the New Zealand Herald's Element magazine last month certainly hit its targets: "Feeding the nation – obesity, poverty and how to get New Zealand eating its greens".

There's an old saying in politics – that explaining is losing. Which is why it's best to have nothing to do with Viscount Monckton's search for publicity

It's fair to say that "Lord"/"Viscount"/"Grand Wazoo" Monckton is a somewhat polarising figure. Google "Monckton lies" and you'll get some flavour of why that might be. At the moment, he's over here in New Zealand seeking a platform for his "skeptical" (read, "denialist") views on human-induced climate change.

When science joins journalism, good things happen, as Mike Joy and Stephen Sackur showed. It was a big media science story, that should have been a bigger economic one: how to reconcile dairy’s growth industry with our “100% pure” brand

It’s an august line-up, on this Thursday’s Media 7 science special: Professor Sir Peter Gluckman; Robert, Lord Winston. Me.

It's been ten years since the Knowledge Wave conference. So has the world changed for you? Has technology and innovation swept you away? Or are we expecting too much, too soon?

The 21st century has whacked me round the face a couple of times in the past week. First, I was asked to give a job reference for someone I'd never met. A woman I've only ever known and worked with online asked if I would talk about her to a potential new employer, and to my surprise I found that I could.

What if those in politics could get past what's right and what's left to what's right and what's wrong? That's naive, of course, but it doesn't mean that science couldn't improve the way we decide those big policy questions

Politics is often described as a contest of ideas, and so it is. But because politicians only get to implement their ideas if they can win the support of the majority, simple and populist ideas often float to the top of any policy debate.

As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and the glaciergate debate fades, the IPCC is gearing up for another report, another round of controversey. It will take great care testing the science; will its critics? And what's the future of transport?

The story goes like this: Following publication of the 4th Assessment Report in February 2007 and the completion of the Special Report on Renewable Energy, the member countries of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agreed in April 2008 to undertake a 5th Assessment Report (AR5). It's intended to be released in February 2011 after the final review process has been completed.

Ratepayers are an easier target for councils than the enterprises making money out of water, and using most of it. It’s ineffectual and unfair, especially for those growing food

Environment Minister Nick Smith did a good thing last week. I would like to encourage him to do another one.

The controversy over errors in the IPCC's assessment of climate change have people asking whether it's all a beat-up. But where's the peer reviewed evidence that no risk exists, asks one of the IPCC's authors

As has been well reported recently by the media, several errors have emerged from the IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4) published in 2007.

Emissions trading just got interesting, in ways the government probably didn’t intend. They’ve mastered the first lesson, but maybe not the second

In its reluctance to give Phil Goff a platform from which to launch his 2011 campaign, the government may inadvertently have opened a window for him.

Jeanette Fitzsimons’ Sustainable Biofuel Bill has been drawn from the Member’s ballot. It’s sustainable, all right—defying repeal—and the first real test of this Government’s green credentials

Jeanette Fitzsimons’ Sustainable Biofuel Bill began its first reading last week. She says it corrects mistakes in the government’s Biodiesel Grants Scheme, which commenced on 1 July.

An hour or so north of Wellington, Buller Road runs west off SH1 to the birdwatching sanctuary at Lake Papaitonga

The Royal Society of New Zealand recently announced five finalists for their inaugural Science Book Prize

Scientists planning to drill deep into the Alpine Fault to understand more about faults and earthquakes can thank Harold Wellman for discovering the fault nearly 70 years ago

For a nuclear-free country, New Zealand has a surprisingly rich and interesting nuclear history

Summer officially ends this weekend, but the cicadas are still making a raucous sound in my garden. Much of what we know about this summer songster is thanks to the work of a hero of New Zealand science

New Zealand scientists are celebrating the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth – even though he described New Zealand as "not a pleasant place".

Charles Darwin, founder of the theory of evolution, was born 200 years ago today. Events around the world this year celebrate not only the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth but 150 years since the publication of his seminal work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.