Are any of the UK’s political parties offering much on climate change?

With one week to go until the general election here in the UK, all eyes are on the promises of each party as they try to win our votes.

The author of this article on the New Scientist website, however, is unimpressed by what each party has to offer so far on climate change and research into renewable energy.

Energy and climate change are huge research areas in chemistry and the other science and technology sectors at the moment, as we desperately try to slow down the damage we have been doing to our planet. It seems obvious, then, that the government should be supporting research and technology in this area, for the good of everyone.

Many experts, however, are not happy with what they’ve seen so far from the major parties. Big statements about battling climate change have been made, but the specifics have not been given to us, and it’s unclear how any of the parties’ goals will be achieved.

The UK has made some headway in battling climate change and boosting the use of renewable energy, but how do we know who will keep this going, if the details simply aren’t given to us? Can any of the parties deliver in this important matter? What do you think?

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Active vs Passive Voice – Which Side Are You On?

The American Chemical Society are hosting an interesting webinar tomorrow (the 9th of April) on the difference between passive and active voices in scientific writing, and which may be better.

Their example of the difference between the two is:

“We applied an external magnetic field of 4 T while increasing the pressure to 300 kPa.” or “An external magnetic field of 4 T was applied as the pressure was increased to 300 kPa.” 

Passive may the what you’re used to seeing, as it’s often taught in university undergraduate and postgraduate programs, but what do you think?

The webinar will involve two academic experts, Kristin Sainani from Stanford and Celia Elliott from Illinois, giving us the pros and cons of each and which may be more appropriate to use.

It will make for an interesting discussion, and could open your mind to new ways of writing that you haven’t thought of before.

I personally prefer the passive voice when writing scientifically, but may be I could be swayed!

What do you think?

Details of the webinar can be found here.

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Let Our Scientists Talk to Media

This article on the New Scientist website points out the added difficulty researchers are faced with now that the UK government have made it even harder for them to engage with the media. Now, scientists working within government-funded institutions will have to gain permission from their minister before being allowed to speak to journalists. All this extra red tape will make it harder for science and research to be communicated effectively with the public.

Experiences in Canada, where a similar rule has already been enforced, suggests that the government can now suppress the release of certain scientific information, denying the public knowledge that may sway their opinions.

Although it isn’t obvious at the moment what degree of impact this change will have, there is worry among the scientific community that the openness and honesty both scientists and the public crave will be hampered by meddlesome ministers who want to keep certain information under wraps. In order for society to progress and for the public to be fully informed before making political decisions, current research must be communicated to the wider community. To censor our discoveries is not a good idea.

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