Will the $3.5 billion Copenhagen forest fund work? and other stories

Media bulletins

Welcome to a new year of new science. Through the year I’ll drop you an email on breaking science stories and a heads-up on coming events.

Will the $US 3.5 billion forest fund announced in Copenhagen work? Tomorrow in London Australian scientist Phil Shearman and his colleagues release a report on the world’s forests and climate change. They’re concerned that unclear land rights in some countries, coupled with threats from corruption, could block success. More below.

For the silly season we’ve put together a collection of science stories that you may not have heard about. They include: Plastic solar cells from plastic banknote know-how; Preventive aircraft maintenance using nanotech; Hitchhiking nose mites; How bacteria from kangaroos are fighting cancer; and 50 other stories.

Over the next month we’re involved in a couple of interesting conferences. From 22 February the world’s nanoscientists will be meeting in Sydney to explore the latest applications of and safety of nanotech. We have background briefings on the speakers available on request. And from 7 February Australian Science Communicators will be exploring the future of science communication in Canberra.

And Darwin’s Pitbull – Richard Dawkins – is speaking in Melbourne early in March.

There’s more information on each below:

  • Will the $3.5 billion Copenhagen forest fund work?
  • International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 2010 in Sydney,  22- 26 February
  • Science Communication Conference in Canberra, 7-10 February
  • Richard Dawkins: public lecture in Melbourne, 5 March
  • Stories of Australian Science 2010

  • Friday, 22 JANUARY 2010

    Will the $3.5 billion Copenhagen forest fund work?

    One of the few tangible outcomes of Copenhagen was a $US 3.5 billion fund to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by preventing the unfettered destruction of tropical forests.

    Will it work?

    A report released at Chatham House in London this Friday suggests there are real risks that unclear land rights in some countries, coupled with threats from corruption, could block success.

    The authors of The End of the Hinterland: Forests, Conflict and Climate Change cite numerous studies suggesting that in 2010 the potential for enormous profits will lead to increased competition over forest resources between powerful global governments and investors on the one hand, and local actors on the other, resulting in new and resurging violent conflict.

    Australian/PNG scientist Phil Shearman is one of the authors.

    He’s written an assessment of what’s happening in Liberia – using archival aerial images (similar to his previous PNG study).

    He and his colleagues are available in London for interview.

    The report isn’t all bad news. The authors welcome land reforms in China and Brazil.

    The media release with contact details and all the supporting documents are online at http://www.scienceinpublic.com/blog/burness/increased-forest-conflicts

    The potential for nanotechnology to transform our lives and its safety implications will be discussed at the 2010 International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN 2010) on 22- 26 February 2010 at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

    International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 2010 in Sydney,  22- 26 February

    The conference will bring together the Australian and international community working in the field of nanoscale science and technology to discuss new and exciting advances in the field.

    There are a host of speakers willing and able to talk about the latest advances and issues. The highlights include Andrew Bartholomaeus, from Food Standards Australia New Zealand, discussing nanotechnology and food and the challenges of regulation in this area. Tom Faunce, from Australian National University, will also address the challenges of regulating nanotechnology in Australia, while Chuck Geraci, from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the USA, will talk about worker safety.

    Other topics up for discussion include the legal and societal consequences of nanomedicine; how the spin rather than the charge of an electron can create smaller, more versatile electronics; a sunscreen trial; and the potential for nanotechnology to enhance our lives.

    More information from me and the ICONN 2010 site: http://www.ausnano.net/iconn2010/

    The Australian Science Communicator’s will hold their National Conference at the ANU, Canberra on 7-10 February. And while strongly focused on professional development, discussion of the new National Science Communication Policy will be of interest to anyone with an eye on Australian science.

    Science Communication Conference in Canberra, 7-10 February

    More information can be found at:


    Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, author and outspoken atheist. He was named as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2007. In his latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth, he takes on the creationists and all those who question evolution through natural selection.

    Richard Dawkins: public lecture in Melbourne, 5 March

    Dawkins will discuss his latest work on Friday 5 March at 7pm at the Melbourne Town Hall. He will be introduced by Radio National’s Robyn Williams, who will also chair the Q&A session. The session kicks off the literary year for the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. Dawkins is in Melbourne as a guest of the 2010 Global Atheist Convention.

    For more information:
    Richard Dawkins http://richarddawkins.net/
    2010 Global Atheist Convention http://www.atheistconvention.org.au/
    Melbourne Writer’s Festival http://www.mwf.com.au/2010/content/mwf_2009_home.asp

    Our recent publication Stories of Australia Science provides a snapshot of the diversity of Australian research. There are more than a few intriguing yarns inside, including:

    Stories of Australian Science 2010

    Among the other 50 stories you’ll meet the winners of this year’s Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, learn about plans for a giant radio telescope and more.


    We will be publishing a collection of astronomy stories early in 2010, to be followed by a biotechnology later in the year.